Is Life Worth Living?

The title of this post is certainly one of the most personal things there is. If all I am doing is sucking air, am I of any worth? I have answered this question with a negative response many times in my life, but more often it is “Yes, my life is worth living”. Being a student of Socrates, I have studied his words above on several occasions. Socrates basically thought that there is something more to life, than just our random being. And if we want to find that truth, then we must look deeply into ourselves to discover what makes life meaningful and valuable.

But the ancient philosophers are not what this post is all about. Instead, it is about another hero of mine, and that is Leo Tolstoy.

Until a score of years ago, the only thing I knew about Tolstoy was his gigantic novel War and Peace. Since then, I have come to discover that he was a man of deep intellectual thought, much like I would only dream of being. I have got to get around to reading a biography of him.

But, let’s get back to the purpose of this post. When Tolstoy was about 50, he began to think that nothing in life had any value, there was no purpose in being. These thoughts led him to thinking about committing suicide. It was at this point that he reinvented himself as a Christian, but he did not have the conventional beliefs of theologians of his, or especially our day. He even went so far to write his own Bible, that centered on the teachings of Jesus, particularly on the Sermon on the Mount.

From there, Tolstoy went on to fashion his foundational beliefs around four basic things.

  1. Peace
  2. Integrity
  3. Self-discipline
  4. Respect for human beings

I have also come to adopt these four beliefs as a foundation of my life.

  1. Peace, at least the world version of it, is not something that is even remotely accomplishable in my lifetime, and likely not for eons to come, if ever. We humans just seem incapable of living in peace with one another. It just makes no sense to me that we seem to endlessly kill each other and one stupid war after another. I call myself Pro-Life, but not like it is known today. To me, pro-life means I value life in all it regards. I don’t condone abortions, capital punishment, and I don’t in any aspect celebrate wars. They are nothing but utter failures in any regard.
  2. If you don’t have personal integrity, there is nothing you can do to add value to your life. Integrity means you don’t lie, you do what you say, you have moral principles. You have empathy for others. The one person who is the antithesis of these ideas is Donald Trump. He, like my own mother, did not see any reason to think of anything but themselves.
  3. Self-discipline is doing things to make your life, and others in the world, a better place. Self-discipline is growing and evolving into a better human being.
  4. Respect For Human Beings is tantamount to having a life worth living. Given all the stupid things happening in the world today, primarily because of ignorance, having respect for some human beings is definitely a hard sell. But, we must never give up the idea that everyone deserves our respect because we all have the light of God within us.

2 thoughts on “Is Life Worth Living?

  1. I know nothing about Tolstoy except as an author. Your highlighting of four of his key beliefs and his take on Christianity will now have me searching for biographies and background information on him. Very interesting and seemingly in line with some of what guides my life.

    Thanks, RJ.


    1. I wrote a post entitled “Tolstoy and Christianity” back in 2013 that still gets frequent visits. I have yet to read his biography, but I have read quite a bit about him elsewhere. I guess I too, need to read that.


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