“Your Mother or Your Country: Choose?” Jean Paul Sartre illustrates this with a story about a young who came to him for advice as he was at an impasse.
The young man’s mother absolutely lived for him; she had no one else. The son didn’t want to betray and abandon his mother, but he also felt a responsibility to his countrymen to fight the Nazis in WW2,
And felt he could best do this by traveling to Britain to join the French air force based there while France was occupied. The young man couldn’t decide what to do.
If he chooses to stay and be with his mother, who she was all he had, he would make a big difference in her life, just one life but, leaving his mother may mean not seeing her again
And if he was to choose to fight for his country he would make a difference, a small contribution to a big cause which affects many lives. He felt to both a sense of duty to his mother and his country. He wanted to serve both but had to decide and pick one.
A common piece of advice would be to “listen to your heart”, right? as valid or romantic as that normally sounds, whatever doctrine, advice, or other external influence we may point to, in the end, we’re always the ones making a number of choices,
Whether it’s what action to take, which advice or doctrine to listen to, or how to interpret them. In this case, the man’s chose to go to Sartre for advice as opposed to someone else, and he got the advice he chose to get. Sartre’s response? “You are free. Choose.”
Any ethical system can give only vague rules that you have to interpret and apply. Sartre wants us to see that whether we acknowledge it or not, we’re always involving ourselves in our decisions. “So his choice – No matter what it was – was the only true choice, provided that he made it authentically, because it was determined by the values he chose to accept.”
As Nietzsche once put it, “Man first implanted values into things to maintain himself — he created the meaning of things. A human meaning! Therefore he calls himself ‘man’, that is, the evaluator!”
People are driven to make sense of what simply can’t be made sense of. It’s just who we are. You’re driven to unify things, to place meaning relating it to the world, to bring things together in ways that attempt to make more and more sense of what’s around you.
The world isn’t an orderly place at all. Instead, the world is fundamentally irrational. It has no necessary structure, no intrinsic meaning, no innate significance, and no internal purpose whatsoever on its own as the existentialists do state.
Even the idea of structure is a concept to which we assign meaning. The world is an irrational place, of course I don’t mean you can’t explain why particular things happen or what may a better answer out of various answers.
The irrationality of the world isn’t an easy one to swallow. Think about it. When you see order, purpose or meaning in the world, it allows you — on a very fundamental level — to feel at home in that world.
You can feel most comfortable with yourself and with your actions when they fit into some larger scheme outside you, when things go right and life flows for the betterment of you.
This external framework can, in a way, be comforting because it gives you assurance that a kind of glue is holding everything together and that you can fit into the framework and a little bad can be health to teach and appreciate the good once in a while.
The senseless death of a small child, no matter how horrible you may think it is, doesn’t fit into any larger, pre-established plan or logic. It just is. It just happens. It is senseless in the big picture, because well, there is no big picture at all! There are no facts, only interpretations, but let’s face it, some interpretations offered have no absolute resolve.
The only successful way to deal with the absurdity of life is through living authentically or in layman terms one aspect involves “listening to your heart”. Become what you already are,
It means representing yourself in a way that can be considered genuine, which means embracing the fact that you must confront the world in your own individual way, whether good or bad happens to you. Making decides and doing what you chose represents you.
It in my view, stresses the fact that being true to yourself means reflecting in your ways of living the kind of being that you are. In other words, you’re living in the world in a way that reflects the fact that your eyes are wide open to your nature as an absurd being.
You’re living in a way that acknowledges the fact that whatever life path you pick to follow, you’ll never receive any external justification for why that path was the right one for you to take.
Listening to your heart means making a choice you know and want to live with and this doesn’t necessarily have to be good or bad or the best but, this decision embodies you.
It means representing yourself in a way that can be considered genuine, which means embracing the fact that you must confront the world in your own individual way as opposed to the norm or general conformity.
Sartre insists that, in some respects the consequences don’t really matter, but of course, not to say that consequences are unnecessary. You’re free to make choices that create who you are. You can’t control the conditions in which you make those choices, and you can’t control the outcome.
What you can control is the between, as such the situation you find yourself in and the effects of your actions have on the world after you make your choices are not within your desired absolute control. If you make good choices, if you choose to live honestly and courageously, you’ve made of yourself an honest and courageous person. That’s all you can do and all you can hope to do, if one does so. So don’t live with regret and listen to you heart.