Take a moment to think about your life, your goals, and your purpose. Now, does your view of your life, goals, and purpose rely directly upon what you believe the afterlife to be? Or do you not believe there is an afterlife and live only for today and what you have? Professor Ambrosio outlines what he refers to as the ‘genome’ of western culture in relation to the meaning of life. In order to approach this issue, he uses two characteristic ways in which the meaning of life has been pursued: the way of the hero and the way of the saint. The hero approach is related to genetics and evolution.
Genes are inherited from one generation to the next, but may change according to the culture one is surrounded by. Individuals that follow the hero approach realize that there are no rewards; one only has achievements after overcoming obstacles that will eventually fulfill his or her own goals. Therefore, these heroes characterize strength and courage. These individuals following the hero approach live selflessly without expecting the reward of the afterlife later. Most individuals that follow the hero approach also believe in pro-choice and free market capitalism.
On the other hand, the saint approach is more of a religious based view. These individuals believe in the divine purpose, that they are put here on Earth for a specific reason. The saint’s actions made in today’s society are for self-preservation in order to gain the reward of the afterlife later. Therefore, the saint characterizes obedience, care, and concern that are based solely on love due to their life’s purpose. Professor Ambrosio stated that the hero and saint approaches can be intertwined. They can also change.
For instance, and individual may relate more to the hero approach, but due to some life altering event, he or she may avert to the saint approach, or vice versa. In the American society today, it seems very difficult to say that the hero and the saint are ideal types that can serve as fundamentally distinct ways of living personally and in society. America is a huge melting pot, full of different people from different backgrounds with different religions, or lack thereof. Therefore, most individuals will not be able to solely choose one: the hero or the saint.
Most individuals in today’s society can relate to both approaches, even if it is predominantly to one approach and only slightly to the other. Each individual has his or her own reasons for wanting to live each and every day. His or her spirituality include the values and meanings for how and why they live their lives. Regardless of which approach is chosen by individuals, there is one common ground. Both approaches have an overall purpose for life: whether it is living for life now and experiencing it to the fullest or living everyday to get to the afterlife.