becker weaves together a philosophy of humanity that is based on the premise that most of a person’s actions (life) is based on his or her fear of death. he writes, “Of all things that move man, one of the principal ones is his terror of death.”
to get even more specific, he contends that humanity’s greatest fear is to die without significance. in escape from evil, he writes, “What man really fears is not so much extinction, but extinction with insignificance. Man wants to know that his life has somehow counted, if not for himself, then at least in a larger scheme of things, that it has left a trace, a trace that has meaning. And in order for anything once alive to have meaning, its effects must remain alive in eternity in some way.”
therefore, people begin to engage in “immortality projects” – any activity that will allow us to outlive our physical lives (or counteract the mortality that each of us fears). by securing for ourselves “immortality symbols,” we are able to successfully defeat death and outlive our mortality.
becker writes that most people turn to wealth and possessions as their “immortality project.” money gives power now – and, through accumulated property, land and interest, power in the future.” no wonder minimalism is a foreign concept to so many people. it battles against some of the very forces that make us human – even against the primal motivation of self-preservation.
this got me thinking… how then, do i strive to live as a minimalist? how do i live a life that is not motivated by the accumulation of more and more possessions? is it possible to live a life apart from the accumulation of these immortality symbols?
of course it is - the key is to find new “immortality projects.” to make a conscience decision to not allow the “tyranny of the visible” to crowd out its invisible competitors. so i choose to live out a life of significance by having integrity, being trustworthy, honest, and responsible. i choose to touch the lives of others in meaningful ways by meeting their physical , emotional, and spiritual needs. i choose to elevate others rather than myself. i fight for justice and equality. and above all else, i choose to communicate love. in so doing, i impact the lives of others and outlive my own physical life.
by seeking these invisible “immortality symbols,” i address my need for significance and i satisfy my desire for immortality. strive for immortality today. just be sure to look for it somewhere other than your bank account.
ps – becker blames the world’s injustice and violence on humanity’s desire for wealth as an immortality symbol. he writes “no wonder economic equality is beyond the imagination of modern, democratic man: the house, the car, the bank balance are his immortality symbols.”