While hedonistic distractions do serve a limited purpose to brighten Watanabe’s spirits, he is left to seek something more fulfilling. It is important to note Wanatabe does not succumb to overt sentimentality due to his deep insecurities. He does not seek answers in theology, which agrees with Bertrand Russell’s agnostic worldview. Nevertheless, taking heed to this inner churning, as well as learning from the example of his cheerful young colleague, he decides to devote the final months of his life in building a public park. This park is his personal monument – a great moment of victory over ennui and stasis. It is, in a broader sense, a victory over his cancer as well, for generations of his fellow countrymen will enjoy the fruits of his labour. Watanabe’s character, taken as the composite of his last few months, is consistent with the moral behavior proposed by John Doris in his essay.
It is fitting that Watanabe devoted his final days to a public cause for his own progeny have hurt and rejected him. In many ways, his actions capture the essence of the freedom of inquiry and expression proposed by Bertrand Russell in A Free Man’s Worship. The scene where the residents living near the park come to Watanabe’s funeral and express grief is very instructive. It embarrasses his family members as well as high ranking officials, for both were antagonistic and distrustful of him. The real testament to the value of Watanabe’s life lived is manifest in the tears shed by members of the general public. This group, by virtue of being quite removed from his personal life, were best poised for judging his character.
In conclusion, we can say with conviction that both Watanabe and Amélie unearthed the meaning of their lives from within. Adopting a rationalistic and pragmatic approach, they choose introspection over false consolation. In other words, they eschew Epicureanism while embracing humanism. They navigate the uncertainties and absurdities of life through a tenacity that is born of moral character. Even in the deepest phases of agony, they never fall short of offering love to others. Their sense of community and value of the common good is something that Tolstoy would have approved of. The two heroic characters, by relating personal happiness with the greater common good, transcend personal afflictions.
Russell, Bertrand. Why I am not a Christian, Pp.1-17, Print.
Tolstoy, Leo. My Confession, The Meaning of Life, Pp. 946+, Print.
Fromm, Erich. The Theory of Love, The Art of Loving, p.7+, Print.
Russell, Bertrand. A Free Man’s Worship, The Meaning of Life, p.959+, Print.
Epicurus, The Extant Letters, Select texts, p.29+. Print.
Doris, John. Moral Character, Moral Behavior, Lack of Character, p.28+, Print.
Nagel, Thomas. The Meaning of Life, The Meaning of Life, p.975+. Print.