In order to live well and to wish everybody a good life, it makes sense, perhaps is even necessary, to consciously say yea (or yes) to one’s own existence. This is often more difficult than it seems at first sight since there is no external evidence which proves that there is meaning in the world and human life.
We do not know how the world came into being, how it will end, where we come from, and where we will go after death. Therefore, deprecating or skeptical attitudes towards the world and one’s own existence are frequent and comprehensible, especially in precarious circumstances and in times of crisis: cynicism, depression, withdrawal into ideologies, sects, addiction, consumerism or other illusions, greed, resignation, aimlessness, egoism, angst right up to suicide are all possible reactions. Yea-saying to one’s own existence in all its limitations, randomness, and vulnerability is not a given at all but rather often requires much strength and resilience.
Many of humanity’s traditions have passed on practices which foster, strengthen, and allow one, through regular exercise, to maintain the attitude of the basic yea which is often still present in childhood but tends to come into crisis in adolescence. Particularly the time-proven practices of pausing for thought – silence, experiencing nature, fasting, reading, art, common thoughtfulness, prayer, pilgrimage – are important in this regard. The experiencing and fostering of love, friendship, meaningful activity, and belonging are preconditions for the fundamental yea.
Being able to say yea does not always mean harmony or placidity. It must not be conceived in opposition to conflict and the negative. Rather it is the precondition for passionate or even angry criticism of given realities and thus the catalyst for shaping the world, beginning with the desire for more.
Ina Praetorius, Unless You Change and Become Like Little Children, You Will Never Enter The Kingdom of Heaven (Mt18,3). The Theology of Natality, in: Elzbieta Adamiak, Marie-Theres Wacker eds, Feminist Theology in Europe – More than Half a Life. A Reader in Honour of Hedwig Meyer-Wilmes, Münster 2013, 231-244