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The Minions and the Meaning of Life

Inara Hossain

When you think of the minions, what comes to mind?

Yellow… banana… the intense personal struggle in finding one's purpose in life?

Now as bizarre as it might sound, the minions make a compelling argument in solving a fraction of the complicated question, what is our purpose in life?

So put on your analytical eyeglasses and dive into the minds of your English teachers, as we explore one of life's biggest mysteries through the minds of a couple of big-eyed, yellow-fleshed, overall-wearing creatures you will know as the minions.

In the opening of ‘The Minions’ released in 2015, we see the minions have existed for many millennia. They have served and lived among dinosaurs, pharaohs and even Dracula. So, it’s established that the minions have existed for far longer than humanity itself; for about 3.8 billion years. While they may look deceivingly youthful, they are quite ancient and one of the most complex organisms on Earth (if they were real that is).

Through all these years they have spent roaming this Earth, you’d expect them to have evolved into these mighty and superior beings. They have existed long enough to have conquered worlds and collapsed dynasties, and they may have done these things. However, they did not do it under their leadership. Instead, they have served under some of the most ruthless and conniving leaders in history, like Napoleon and Blackbeard.

That brings up the question of why these ancient beings would serve under those who are inferior (in terms of experience) to them, and why they continue to serve under new leaders. Well, this is where our philosophical debate comes into play: how does a creature survive for so long and remain the same (more or less)? In the few years human beings spend on the planet we are constantly growing and adapting, and no one is who they were 5 years before. Contradicting this, the minions have remained the same blindly obedient and loyal followers they have been for centuries.

How do the minions challenge the changing of time?

Many might brush off this question by labelling the minions as dense and simple-minded. They do make dumb choices that may indicate they are not the sharpest of pencils, rather, they are broken pencils that always snap off no matter how many times you sharpen them. This could be true if not for their ability to show empathy. After existing for many millennia, you would expect them to become hard shells, but they have shown time and time again that they are affectionate and caring. Their ability to adapt and be emotionally intelligent enough to understand the needs of their masters shows that they are far more intuitive than expected.

It is unfair to compare the minions' rate of change to those of humans, as they are two very different creatures. Humans change as they grow and search for their purpose in life, the minions, however, have already found their purpose. They have uncovered our most intimidating and terrifying mission in life – the mission to find purpose.

When taking into consideration the history of the minions, one can pinpoint what these yellow tic-tacs have been striving for in their 3.8 billion years of existence: “Minions live to serve. The minions long to serve the most despicable master they can find. This is their purpose in life” (Skjerning & Vilsgaard 2015).

The minions have already found what they live for, what provides meaning to their endless existence. Their one purpose in life is to make a difference by serving something bigger than them.

Does this sound familiar?

.... because it should.

As Skjerning and Vilsgaard write “we can relate to the minions’ need for a purpose in life. Through serving something bigger than ourselves, we feel that our lives matter and that we have made a difference beyond our own time”

Now unlike the minions, humans do not share a common purpose in life. Unfortunately, we are more complicated than that. However, could the same principles the minions apply to find their purpose in life be applied to humans?

If the minions have taught us anything, it is that “If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right to your purpose” - Bishop T.D. Jakes.

For all those struggling with the daunting future and the uncertainty of change, I hope you can take some inspiration from the Minions.

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