Looks like we have ourselves a genuine conundrum. A Quandry if you will. A real life dilemma.
Welcome to Sunday Shares. A new weekly feature in which I’ll impart some of the insight I’ve gained throughout the past week. Every week, I’ll look back at the previous week and summarize what I learned or experienced in terms of takeaways you may use in your own life.
Whether it’s a new skill, a personal epiphany, or just a nugget of wisdom I’ve gleaned from my reading or conversations, I’ll be sharing it all with you in this weekly newsletter.
This week I thought hard about the ultimate hypothetical question. It’s been posed in a wide variety of settings, “If your house was on fire, what are the three things you would save?” A closer look at what seems like a simple question reveals numerous interesting philosophical paradoxes.
The first conundrum involves the concept of value. To answer the question of what to take out of a burning building requires us to make a value judgement. However, this inquiry highlights the relative character of worth. What one person considers important might not be at all what another considers important. Others may place greater value on utilitarian items, such as vital documents or a laptop, while still others may prefer to keep sentimental items, such as photo albums or family heirlooms. This conundrum illustrates how tricky it can be to provide an objective definition of value.
The second conundrum involves the concept of attachment. A person’s level of attachment to their assets can be gauged by what they select to save in the event of a fire. Having nice things can brighten our days and act as reminders of who we are and the times we’ve had. On the other side, if we become overly attached to our goods, we may experience distress when we must part with them or when they no longer serve our needs. In light of this contradiction, it’s fair to wonder whether or not a preoccupation with worldly goods helps rather than hurts our pursuit of happiness.
The identity conundrum is the third dilemma. What we decide to take out of a burning building may be symbolic of who we are and what we value. The things we own can serve as symbols of who we are, revealing our beliefs and passions. But if we lost everything in a fire, would we be the same people we are now? This seeming contradiction calls attention to the precarious nature of our sense of self and prompts inquiries into the function of material goods in this regard.
In the end, the seemingly simple question of “what would you save if there was a fire?” reveals the nuanced and frequently contradictory nature of our attachment to worldly belongings. Possessions not only have the potential to provide us happiness and utility, but they also have the unique ability to reflect our own beliefs, attachments, and identities.
The existence of these contradictions should prompt us to examine our attachment to material goods and the meaning we attribute to them. Perhaps, instead of wondering what we would take with us out of a burning building, we could think about what we could live without and how we can make our lives more substantial without resorting to hoarding.
On The Genocide
I was born after the 1994 Tutsi Genocide, so when I write, it’s typically to learn and reflect, but it also ends up resolving many questions I’ve had about how I live. As a writer, I enjoy experimenting with words and phrases in different contexts in an effort to come up with something meaningful.
I shared a poem online, and the response has been heartwarming beyond words:
Words in due time
One thing I’ve learnt from expressing my creativity online is that you never know when something will just take over. To my surprise, a poem I wrote last year has gone viral this year; hundreds of people have shared it in their Instagram stories, and I’ve gotten positive feedback from more than 50 of them in direct messages.
The lesson here is to focus on being a value-adding person, as that is a reward in and of itself, rather than obsessing about the outcome.
Thank you for spending some of your Sunday with me!
See you next week!
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