“The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.”
We’re about to break the first rule and discuss what I truly believe to be one of the greatest films ever made. Now, that’s quite an accolade and I’m sure you’re wondering exactly why I hold it in such high regard. Well, first and foremost, the storyline is gripping from start to finish; there’s not a weak scene in the whole movie. Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club’s highly original author, is clearly unafraid to investigate the grittier side of humanity. In Tyler Durden, he’s created one of the most interesting characters in fiction. Furthermore, Fincher’s directing is second to none. The cinematography, the acting- it’s all top-notch. Then there’s this; never has a film so skilfully thrust insightful philosophy in front of the eyes of the masses.
“Lost in oblivion. Dark and silent..”
I’ve asked friends about the underlying philosophy of Tyler Durden and a common interpretation has been ‘nihilism’. Understandable. The characters are lost and depressed. They fight each other partly to escape the monotony of modern-day life, like teenagers drinking themselves to oblivion on a park bench. Project Mayhem seems like mindless vandalism, an outburst from those who have given up. Tyler even explicitly encourages self-destruction and suggests “in all probability, God hates you”. Altogether, this is looking pretty dark.
But is hopelessness and meaninglessness really what’s happening here?
Is Fight Club nihilistic?
I don’t think so.
Take Tyler seriously enough and you begin to realise there is consistency, a heroic directive even, to his actions. It’s highly unconventional, at times counter-intuitive, and not fully explicated, but it’s there. Murky chaos pervades the atmosphere but it doesn’t encapsulate the essence.
What follows is my take on the philosophy of Tyler Durden.
“Working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need”
Fight Club is first and foremost a critique of modernity. The first section of the movie introduces us to the unfulfilling life of a cynical and depressed automobile recall specialist, Jack (as named in the credits). He seeks relief in buying contemporary IKEA furniture for his flat, has no passion for his job, is lonely, and suffers from chronic insomnia. Returning home one day Jack discovers an explosion has destroyed his flat and all his possessions. Hopeless and homeless, something drives him to make contact with an eccentric stranger he met on the plane, Tyler Durden. They meet up for a drink at Lou’s bar where Tyler intrigues Jack with his unconventional, anti-materialist stance. Thus begins one of the most enlightening scenes in the whole movie regarding Tyler’s philosophy.
Tyler asks Jack what we essentially are. “Consumers” is the answer given. Not humans or social or spiritual beings, but consumers; cogs in an economic machine. This notion of who we are has seeped into the cultural narrative, supported by advertising, social and mass media. Tyler later makes this point at one of the Fight Club meetings: “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need”. Consider recent discussions of political decisions or national events. There is often an unnatural weighting applied toward the economy as if it is to be prioritised above even general happiness and lives. Young people look up to those who’s lifestyle they want, not those who have sacrificed in the name of principle; social currency bought with envy, not respect. These are strong signifiers of the social imbalance that an economics obsessed system, devoid of counter-balancing wisdom, manifests.
“Well, you did lose a lot of versatile solutions for modern living”
In the same scene, Jack laments the loss of his possessions as they share a pitcher of beer. In response, Tyler sarcastically references the cyclical nature of consumerist ‘progression’: “Well, you did lose a lot of versatile solutions for modern living”. The point is, as a society, we create problems (often lack of time) which are then solved with improved products. Modern solutions for modern problems. The thing is, studies have shown our happiness is more closely related to relative, rather than absolute, wealth & status; how we compare to those around us. Strengthening a developed economy and improving technology does little for the average person’s happiness because it provides them with no relative advantage, especially when the gap between rich and poor grows. Yet we expend such significant human effort creating more advanced TVs, phones, and cars, and then consuming them, playing into the hands of the power structure, rather than attempting to modulate it. Modernity; the illusion of evolution.
“The things you own end up owning you”
As Tyler continues to wax philosophical in Lou’s bar, he takes the critique further, pointing out that consumer culture has reduced us to obedient slaves. “The things you own end up owning you”- the more we join the rat race, the more we compare our material success with others and become psychologically beholden to their judgment. We neurotically chase materialistic perfection and social status to the detriment of all else. It’s a system that predates on living things, turning us (and other animals) into means to economic ends.
The consequences extend far beyond wasting our own lives and feeling unfulfilled though. Countries fight wars and millions die, not for the greater good, but for profit. The natural world is destroyed so we can have more unnecessary things. What’s worse is this has become normalised. And through normalisation, it has become accepted. Consumer culture is the new religion, Facebook and Apple are our idols. Serving them is our primary function and like a cult it’s brainwashing us, owning us. Tyler is hypersensitive to the inappropriateness of this.
REPRESSION OF THE NATURAL SELF
“Our great depression is our lives”
A key turning point of the movie occurs when Jack, dismissed by his doctor because his insomnia has no obvious physical signs, resorts to joining cancer/disease support groups, posing as a sufferer. The sympathy he receives cures his chronic insomnia and so he keeps returning. The madness of our culture is perfectly portrayed here; Jack has to masquerade his emotional suffering as physical in order to be taken seriously.
Indeed, our emotional well-being is undervalued. How much easier is it to get medical care for a physical ailment than a mental one? The reason is simple: You can still work if you are depressed, you can’t if you have a broken arm. In fact, mild depression is somewhat useful, economically, as a catalyst for ‘retail therapy’.
Mental health degradation is caused in large part by social policy. Consumerism, advertising, lack of sleep, disconnection, low-income stress are all culturally avoidable. But it’s seen as an individual’s problem. If you’re depressed because you’re sensitive to the suffering in the world, it’s up to you to be less sensitive. If trauma has been passed down from oppressed generation to generation, it’s up to you to deal with the fallout. And then, like economically worthless male chicks, the mentally exhausted are crushed up and shipped off to Big Pharma, the last bit of profit and power wrung from them before their spirits keel over and die.
“What kind of dining set defines me as a person”
This is a line from the beginning of the movie as Jack narrates his everyday consumer-based thinking. One symptom of an overly prescribed lifestyle is that we outsource expression to an assembly-line of machined goods. Copies of copies of copies. We define ourselves by the things we own rather than via a creative and personalised expression. Art for art’s sake is devalued and humanity’s voyage into the unknown stunted.
“Murder, poverty, crime; these things don’t concern me. What concerns me is having some guy’s name on my underwear”
Jack is captivated as his mentor furthers the doctrine. Tyler points out how our individualistic frame of mind means we lose care for social matters; we lack values. Amidst so much social pressure to conform we repress the feeling that the world isn’t right. Worse than this, society actually encourages us to be more psychopathic. Studies have suggested that a disproportionate amount of the financially successful have strong traits of functional psychopathy. Conversely, those who are most sensitive to atrocities carried out around the world are often ridiculed; consider the commonality of anti-vegan rhetoric. Our social system rewards psychopathy over empathy, so we numb ourselves with escapist activities, all the while living in mild depression. How many of us think about the impending doom of environmental catastrophe each day, yet recognise the gravity of the situation when we are confronted with it? How many of us consider the exploitation carried out by corporate interests when we wake up? Are these not more pressing events, really, than what new couch to buy? Like trauma victims, we dissociate from all the horror around us and pretend nothing is going on. We resemble groomed drug addicts accepting hits of heroin to turn a blind eye to abuse.
THE MODERN STRUGGLE
“Our great war is a spiritual war”
After they meet in Lou’s bar for the first time, Tyler instigates a fistfight with Jack. This is the birth of Fight Club. Over time, others join and Tyler uses it as a platform for his subversive rhetoric. He declares “our great war is a spiritual war” which encapsulates the underlying wisdom of Fight Club. Humanity is, unwittingly, engulfed in a spiritual war. The old, self-centred forces of Nietzsche’s ‘Will to Power’ battle the new, connected will of a less primitive, more spiritual form. Selfishness vs empathy. Materialism vs immaterialism. The satisfaction of visceral, primal urges vs a more subtle, deeper sense of wellbeing.
“Self-improvement’s masturbation, now self-destruction…”
There is a prescribed antidote to this social malaise, but it is less obvious than the critique as it’s not explicitly stated by Tyler. So we have to look at repeated themes.
Tyler Durden is hyper-masculine and impervious to social norms. He is self-destructive with regard to his social image- the egotistical (usually fake) self-representation that one presents to others. He says whatever he believes and has alpha confidence in his contrarian views. This is freedom of the mind through relief from social ambition. Why is this so important in Tyler’s philosophy? Well, because you have to be non-conformist if you want to walk the path of the maverick and discover the truth. This is the crucial first step in becoming the antidote to the current system. If you care too much about your image, you will be psychologically drawn to whatever helps you ‘fit in’ and that extends to party-line belief systems. Everything starts and ends with beliefs.
“Is that what a man is supposed to look like?”
Masculinity and its portrayal in modern times is a central theme in Fight Club. The film is very much about lost men gaining a sense of purpose. There is a telling scene in which Tyler and Jack mock the advertised depiction of an underwear model; “is that what a man is supposed to look like?”. They know that our perception of what it means to be masculine has been molded around the values (or lack of values) of an economics-based system. Organic masculinity resonates protection; a vanguard against evil, fortified in courage and a sense of righteousness. Seen this way, true masculinity is a threat to the ethically empty system that depends on abuse.
As such, actual courage is replaced by looking tough. Obedience and risk aversion are encouraged qualities when they can in fact be dangerous to the integrity of goodness. Instead of maturing character through hardship, the focus is on accumulating wealth and security. Rather than acting for the greater good, we are encouraged to adopt individualism; the pursuit of personal status and power. United we stand, divided we fall. If the first step of the resolution is adopting fluidity of mindset, the next is to connect with our natural states.
We are losing touch with both strong masculine and feminine essences. As we are subdued, this polarity subsides and we converge toward bland consumers, stripped bare of our connection to nature. We have become separated from our deeper selves, operating more on the level of superficial immediate feelings. We need to teach the next generation the necessity of being in tune with ourselves, as well as a responsibility to the world around us. We need a role in our community beyond a corporate one; social responsibility and hardship. Through this, we gain purpose and heal the existential pain that so commonly ails us.
DISCOMFORT OVER COMFORT
“What is a duvet?…. Comfort”
Tyler sleeps in a dilapidated, derelict house, embraces pain as a daily ritual, and condemns conventional luxuries, like televisions and sofas. His consternation with the modern world could be summed up quite well with this single concept; excessive comfort-seeking. “We’re a generation of men raised by women,” Tyler states, linking it with evolutionarily maternal traits. The suggestion is that due to a failure to exhibit, demonstrate, and teach true masculinity, we have become soft and lost our way.
In terms of self-discipline and strength of mind, things have deteriorated over the past few decades. Attention spans have been affected by new media forms and our ability to cope without stimulation has deteriorated rapidly. This is a critical point because knowing your deeper self depends upon sustained self-attuned attention. Meditation retreats require abstinence from distraction- a distinct contrast with today’s world of modern tech and media. The expectation of dopamine inducing entertainment has become borderline addictive.
But the matter extends beyond tech. It’s the inability to endure hardship in a culture of mollycoddling that is lamented. People travel to third world countries to ‘immerse’ themselves in the culture, soaking in the atmosphere from their 5 star hotel balcony. Most of us stick to what we’re familiar with, in thinking and behaviour, too afraid to live.
In contrast, the natural masculine state thrives on adrenaline-fuelled risk. With too much security we become meek, have no clear purpose, and become frustrated with our inauthentic lives.
As Tyler says, “how can you really know yourself if you’ve never been in a fight”. Perhaps physical fighting is a little extreme for most of us but the essence holds; valuing discomfort over comfort is where real personal development and self-knowledge begins. Individual physical survival is not a worthy enough standard anymore- the real struggle is for spiritual development and the survival of ideas.
Wim Hof (aka The Iceman) is a perfect modern-day example of this principle. An ordinary Dutchman who, after the tragic death of his wife, adopted a lifestyle of exposing himself to harsher and harsher cold conditions. These experiences forced him to attain an unheard-of level of connection with his body, similar to that claimed by meditation masters in the East. In 2007 he climbed Mount Everest topless and later proved he was able to control his autonomic nervous system- feats previously considered impossible by the scientific community. Through seeking discomfort he found a natural state of being, overturned scientific theory and rediscovered lost truths of the human condition.
“After fighting everything else in your life got the volume turned down. You could deal with anything”
This is a key insight from Jack. Having met Tyler and become a fighter, Jack’s character visibly changes. Workplace anxiety is replaced with a fearless self-confidence. He narrates the above thought as he hands over some papers to his manager, meeting his eye with visible disdain. Jack has transformed from a submissive underling, living in fear of artificial hierarchy to an irreverent maverick, able to judge his boss by his true character.
Today, we are so far removed from the ‘rites of passage’ traditions that would have formed a significant event in tribal life. Overcoming pain was an integral step in the progression toward manhood. Why is this necessary? Fear of pain is the weakness that power structures commonly exploit. Remove the extent of that fear and you diminish the control. Tribal traditions that force boys to undergo extreme acts of pain begin to make more sense in this context. You have to prove you can face extreme adversity because that will be necessary for your role as protector of the realm.
It’s also true that stressful events leave you less preoccupied with irrelevant details- the volume has been turned down on them. Keeping yourself in a progressively uncomfortable state maintains this effect. The message is; embrace the inner warrior and confront fears. You will feel more capable and alive and better able to live true to your core.
FUCK THE RULES
“The second rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club!”
We all know what the first and second rules of Fight Club are. But if you can’t talk about it, how can the club grow and spread its message? The only way is if some of the members disobey and invite others. The friends they bring are also likely to be rule breakers, by association. The genius of this catch 22 set up is that it necessarily creates a community of disobedient rebels who are united by an empowering shared principle: Fuck the rules.
Before meeting Tyler, Jack lived a submissive, disenfranchised life, strictly regulated by social norms. Tyler’s contempt for artificial stipulations of any kind is one of the most immediate aspects of his character and it soon rubs off on Jack. Independence of mind is another lost masculine trait. This comes back to the idea that blind obedience is dangerous. Rules often represent centralised control by those who are served by the prevailing power structure. Following them without consideration will only perpetuate the path we are heading in, solidifying it. Questioning the status quo and going against the grain allows us to act according to more authentic internal laws.
“I want you to hit me as hard as you can”
Beyond societal rule-breaking, the concept of rule-breaking can be extended to our biology. Primitive drives and the lack of control we have over them are to a large extent what fuels the system we are trapped in. This ties into the aforementioned ‘rites of passage’ idea; voluntary exposure to pain leads to inner strength and resilience. After their first meeting, Tyler takes Jack outside of Lou’s bar to put into practice his philosophical outlook. “I want you to hit me as hard as you can” is the line that first wakes Jack up out of his decades-long stupor. It has such an effect because it is so surprising; you are not supposed to want people to hit you, it’s against the ‘rules’. Yet here is Tyler, going against his biological drives of self-preservation and self-improvement.
Biology is pertinent when it comes to cause and effect too. It’s emotionally easier to blame external agents (be it the media or government) for the greed infused system we live in than to admit the issue ultimately stems from human nature. Power structures naturally develop and if anything, they tend to wield already existing drives within us, rather than creating them. Our own lack of personal control of these drives leaves them open for exploitation. This means if we want to change our personal lives and the social system, the duty to develop character lies not just with those in power but within us also.
Consumerism is driven to a large degree by our rampant competitive nature. Keynes, an influential economist from the 1930s predicted we’d be working half the hours we actually do by now because improved technology would allow us to. In fact, rather than work less, people just buy more. We have become better consumers instead of taking the opportunity to have more varied lives. This is another strong indication of how people in general help perpetuate the status quo. Just as we can over-ride the drive to eat certain foods (eg sugar), we can subdue attraction to power and wealth. Testing the rules of our own nature is about more than defense against abuse; it pertains to the root of the issue.
Tyler’s philosophy prescribes the need to transcend our social conditioning and to stop being enslaved by our biological conditioning. Fight it. Constantly testing the limits maintains our ability to rise above them.
“Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of Raymond K. Hessel’s life”
In due course, Tyler transforms Fight Club into something more than just fighting. His engaging speeches to the group serve as a prelude to the creation of Project Mayhem. He issues members of this project ‘homework’; acts of public provocation and subversive, anti-corporate vandalism.
During one escapade Tyler takes Jack to a convenience store and, without warning, pulls a gun on the cashier. Raymond is shaking with fear as Tyler demands to know what his true life goals are. Jack was shocked by this, but ‘shocking’ is exactly what the world needs right now.
This is an over-riding theme throughout the movie; the necessity for us to be jolted out of our robotic, sheltered modern-day existence. We must stop running away from our pain, we must feel it and let it guide us. Triggering Raymond’s survival instinct forced him to face the reality of death and thereby the potential of life. The same idea carries across to the other Project Mayhem homework assignments. They seem to be causing chaos for the sake of it but they’re really about metaphorically shaking people up out of their comfort induced malaise.
In fact, the central focal point of the movie, fighting, fits into this theme. Out of context, the underground fighting looks like mindless bravado- self-destructive behaviour borne of nihilistic resignation. But it’s more profound than that. It’s about gaining fearlessness and presence of mind. Think back to when you’ve had your fight or flight response triggered; you can’t help but become utterly attentive to present reality. This is the antidote. Only by forgetting the minor trivialities of your own life can you stop dissociating from the real problems of the world and become useful. Tyler Durden honours discomfort and pain as a way to gain such presence of mind; it is the route to salvation, not something to be avoided at all costs.
“He’s dead, they shot him in the head!”
“You wanna make an omelette, you gotta break some eggs”
During one of the Project Mayhem homework assignments, a member is shot and killed by the police. Jack is beside himself but Tyler takes it calmly: “You wanna make an omelette, you gotta break some eggs” he says. The risk of violence and death is part of the warrior’s path.
The influence of corporate power can be seen in the inconsistency of our general attitudes toward violence. By and large, violence is an abhorrent concept to the masses, even when it’s for the greater good; consider how only peaceful protest is applauded. Well-coordinated violent activism is arguably the most effective means for creating significant, positive systemic change, yet history indicates social violence has declined in recent centuries. This is convenient when physicality is the arena in which the outnumbered ruling elite, who play the biggest part in perpetuating the system, are weaker than the masses they attempt to subdue.
At the same time, we support political parties that routinely play a critical role in military-based mass murder, indirectly through weapons dealing, or directly through war. The contradiction in conventional thinking is glaring: Murder is a sheer necessity when carried out in support of power hierarchies, yet inherently evil if carried out to break them down.
It’s this aspect of Tyler’s viewpoint that ultimately leads to Jack opposing him. He is unable to follow Tyler’s philosophy to its logical conclusion.
“Do not fuck with us”
What is the macro effect implied to be when enough individuals exhibit presence of mind and fearlessness? Project Mayhem provides a clue- an army of fearless ubermensch (to take the Nietzschean term) who can overcome even their own drive for self-preservation to rebel against an abusive system through subversive activism. They recognise the power inherent in the masses; numbers. The project is not anarchist for the sake of it, it is an attempt to unplug people from the matrix, to shake society out of the drone-like state it is in. The final scenes of the movie centre around Tyler’s plan to blow up the buildings containing credit card records; the end goal being to erase debt, a crucial pillar of the economic system. This is Tyler/Jack acting out of his deep desire to right the wrongs of the world.
“We’re all dying, in the Tibetan Buddhist sense of the word”
Interestingly, the focus on shunning social status and becoming present creates a strong parallel with certain eastern philosophical doctrines. There are actually a couple of references to Buddhism in the film.
“This is your life and it’s ending one minute at a time”
One is the focus on temporality and how we’re in a constant state of decay. In Fight Club this notion can be regarded as another call to arms. Every minute we spend as drones is another minute of wasted precious life. Each day we seek comfort over personal development is another day we amalgamate with the abusive system.
“Losing all hope was freedom”
Another parallel is the idea of losing desire. The four noble truths of Buddhism state that desire is the root cause of all suffering and that we should therefore try to extinguish it. Tyler recognises self-centred hope as a hindrance to spiritual freedom and a means of control- it is our wanting to be rich and famous like the celebrities that shepherds us toward conveyor belt consumerism.
Let go of what you think you want to find what you truly need.
“Let’s evolve… Let the chips fall where they may”
In Lou’s bar it’s clear Jack is searching to be made ‘complete’ by his possessions. Tyler rebuts the underlying assumption, announcing “I say never be complete. I say let’s evolve. Let the chips fall where they may.” Tyler is without attachment to any given outcome. If it’s time for him to die, so be it. He is the ultimate wing artist; spontaneous, unplanned, and unpredictable. He just acts, just is. Does it strike you that someone who is not even afraid of death, like Tyler, can be easily controlled or intimidated? He is truly detached from the system and thereby a threat to it.
“You are not special. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else”
In one of his speeches to the Project Mayhem group, Tyler rejects the egoism of modern culture. One of the most powerful teachings found in Buddhism is the idea of oneness. In another dimension, perhaps, we are connected as one, spiritually. If this is so then our apparent manifestation as disconnected individuals in this physical realm is but an illusion. No given person is special, in the sense that we are all part of the same form. No you or I, just life. This ‘ridding of the ego’ is in direct opposition to the current social system and closely unites Tyler’s philosophy with the ancient East.
“This is the best moment of your life and you’re off somewhere missing it!”
If there is a key contrast between Buddhist methods and Tyler Durden’s, it’s encapsulated perfectly in the harrowing chemical burn scene. After his first meeting with Tyler, Jack is intrigued. He ditches his materialistic lifestyle and moves into the abandoned building Tyler resides in. Later on in the soap-making kitchen, without warning, Tyler grabs Jack and pours corrosive lye on his bare hand. The pain of his flesh searing is excruciating and Jack’s only recourse is to psychologically escape using meditation. At this, Tyler angrily admonishes him: “This is the best moment of your life and you’re off somewhere missing it!”. The divergence is clear. Whilst Buddhism aims to dissolve the ego through the cultivation of an internal mindful state, Tyler has a more brute force method; pain is not shunned, but embraced as a primal connector to the reality of death, and thereby life.
“I don’t want to die without any scars”
So how to summarise the ideas we’ve explored? The essence is that we are unhappy because we are born into a system, economic and social, that accentuates greed and has remained unchecked by wisdom or principle. There’s no real love and that lack of love from the society we live in is the source of our emptiness. The emptiness is not recognised and is portrayed as something we just have to live with. We exist like docile sheep, preoccupied with what everyone thinks of us. We are kept in this state through social conditioning, via advertising and mass media mind control as well as a reliance on our self-preservation instinct inhibiting us from striking out.
Tyler Durden’s philosophy highlights how modern civilisation is a hindrance to reconnecting with our natural, healthy state. He shows that the way out is to reject materialism, seek discomfort, be disobedient, and let go of egotistical desires. Furthermore, we must understand and challenge our biological nature, for it is ultimately this that must be controlled. Following this prescription cultivates self-knowledge, disillusionment, fearlessness, and presence of mind. The result is a deep sense of purpose and the freedom to begin an authentic life.
The philosophy is about individual re-birth, a pro-active means of self-control. But it’s also about turning the social tide away from harmful modern developments. Voluntary adversity allows us to find ourselves and discover meaning through fighting, metaphorically at least, for what we believe in. Consider William Wallace from Braveheart and his quest to resist destructive forces. “They may take our lives but they will never take our freedom” expresses how we always have the choice to resist or submit. He could have kept his head down and lived a comfortable life, but he didn’t and his life was as meaningful as any in history.
Ultimately, in line with Buddhist doctrine, Tyler’s teachings are about leaving egoism behind and evolving humanity to a state of spiritual resolution, through deep personal development.
Since the release of Fight Club, there has been a surge in activism. Significant movements such as Occupy, Extinction Rebellion, Antifa, BLM, Me Too, Greta Thunberg’s environmentalism, and covid related protests have all arisen in recent years. Rightly or wrongly, this kind of activism questions the cultural narrative and we have to remember- who else changes culture but those of us that act?
As a final note, the climax of the movie revolves around a fantastic plot twist; Tyler reveals he and Jack were the same person all along. They were dissociated personas of the same body. Tyler was the part of Jack that wanted to not care, have no fear, and be free of restraint. The very creation of Tyler in Jack’s mind indicates he was in dire need of a mentor. The key message here is where your mother/father/authority figures fail you, be your own guiding light. You don’t need to create a split personality alter ego, but you do need to be the leader to yourself, and perhaps others, that our society doesn’t provide.
Tyler’s philosophy is far from nihilistic then, as far as I see it. It’s actually incredibly profound and empowering. The surface level chaos is merely a ‘river of shit’ (ala Shawshank Redemption) to swim through to reach salvation. It’s a call to arms for us to save ourselves and to become the protectors we are meant to be, not just of our loved ones, but of society, of nature, and the world as a whole.