There exists in philosophy a concept called “social contract theory,” which supposes that individuals in a group surrender some of their freedoms for the protection of their rights.
I believe this surrender is implicit once we are born. We never signed a contract, after all, and there are no concessions in place by which we can exit society without incarceration or death. We are born, and expected to ingratiate ourselves in whatever cultural customs are thrust upon us. To that culture, we are an investment – an investment in its continuation for generations to come – and it starts with indoctrination at a young age that authority is to be respected without question. This is particularly true in Western culture, whose Judeo-Christian roots add a metaphysical level of submission to our thrall.
On the whole, people are content to adhere to these customs, because it services them meaningfully in every way they require. It feeds them, it clothes them, it places a roof above their head, it protects them from harm (or at least does not cause any), and it gives them an avenue of meaningful contribution so that they may enjoy the fruit of their own labor, such as a job. However, there are also those with whom society’s pre-designated avenues are incompatible. Our culture adds a racial, gender, sexual orientation, religious creed, and income level disclaimer to who it allocates its resources to, and although it adheres to this archaic appraisal of the value of its citizens, it still expects those to whom it does not cater to follow its orders. We are still, after all, under contract.
In the absence of a means by which these individuals may exit this society, they must turn to alternative sources of fulfillment. For instance, when a person must steal to provide their family when society has denied them the means to do so legitimately, they have acknowledged that they are better off without. In its anger over its mounting obsolescence within this person’s life, society lashes out in the form of arrest, imprisonment, or even death. If it can’t have you, no one can.
This, ultimately, is the goal of a society – not to service people, which is merely its ostensible purpose, but to survive. It is an organism, like any other, albeit a macro-scale one.
In that way, society is a lot like the universe. We are constituent parts of that universe; the decision to participate was not ours, but we are expected to carry it through to its end regardless, and our only means of omission is suicide. Though we are still deducing the purpose for our existence, the short-term goal seems apparent: survival and procreation. Not of individuals in particular, but the larger human collective, and sentient life in general. “The greater good.”
However, like society, the universe’s parameters are arbitrarily drawn by agents beyond our influence. If we suppose there is a God – let’s say the Judeo-Christian monotheistic variety – then we can assume he is the one drafting these limitations. He wants to see his creation survive, so he provides two choices: eternal damnation, or assimilation. Suicide, or monotony.
This duality is a chimera, for there exists a third route: mastery.
Consider the virus, a “non-living” entity capable of destroying ordered systems with fortuitous timing and perseverance. It, too, wants to survive, but not in the system it was borne to. It changes it on a small scale, affecting larger change to cater the universe it lives in to better suit its specifications. If it possessed the faculties necessary to contemplate its existence, it may understand that this process is killing its host. Would that stop it? Would it commit suicide so that the host could survive?
The virus is not one of God’s creations; it is “non-living.” It does not follow his rules. It is their very antithesis. It exists not to support, but to destroy, and it does so with no greater intention in mind but its own happiness and survival. It does not need a “greater good” to validate its existence; existence alone is comfort enough for it.
If this concept has resonance to you, you have glimpsed into the black heart of Satan.
For more on my personal beliefs, read my article on metaphysics.