My mother was wrong. Life is neither a cheat or a joke. Life is neither fair or unfair. Life is life. Nothing more or less. Life is not pleasure. Death is not pain. Without death, there could be no life.
What is death? Certainly, an absence of life. What else is it? I do not know.
I wish I could believe in a heaven and hell, but I do not. If you do, wonderful. But I do not see why suffering in life would get one into heaven. (One would probably feel uncomfortable in heaven if one suffered all one’s life. Probably one would feel more comfortable in hell if one spent a lifetime getting used to it.)
What is life? A limited period of time in which the living has a limited amount of awareness. What is the purpose? The biologic behaviorist tells us that all behavior is purposeful. Everything we do is for the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. I think that is true, life is for the pursuit of happiness and the avoidance of pain.
For human beings to be born into unhappiness by parents who are intellectually, emotionally, socially, or financially incapable, unwilling or unable to take responsibility for a child until grown is a human tragedy. When multiplied by millions, even billions, it becomes a social tragedy, if not a national and global tragedy. To allow someone to be born into a most probable life of unhappiness is not doing them a favor.
Life is not precious, happiness is. Even in our culture, the living do not consider life to be precious like diamonds. At least we do not treat it as precious. Whoever heard of someone throwing a bunch of diamonds away, or putting them against the wall and shooting them, or throwing them out of the house, or putting flaws into them, or defacing them in anyway. We frequently treat other human beings, sometimes even ourselves, as if they or we had no value.
Billions of human beings on this planet, and except for a handful, we will all be dead in 100 years. Not very long when we look back. And the handful that is left will not count or be important. They will have already been discounted. So, what is the purpose of our life? The answer is simple. Life is to be enjoyed day by day with as little pain and as much pleasure as possible by those who live it.
I am convinced that we in westernized culture can truly live happy, fulfilled lives. People in Western culture are basically very unhappy and feel empty. Most of us do not feel fulfilled and content because we truly are not fulfilled and thus we cannot feel content. Most of us do not know what is missing. We have been looking for the meaning of life. What is life all about? What is the purpose of living? Work? Love? If the feeling of love would only last. But it doesn’t. Is being nice and helping others the purpose? What is the purpose, getting married? Making money? Having children? Getting an education? We have lost the purpose, we have lost our way. I lost the way, and did not even know I lost it, or that there was a happier way to live life.
For about 2000 years people in our western Judeo–Christian world were told and taught we were not supposed to be happy in life. We are born guilty, but if we did good and were good we would later receive our rewards by going to heaven, and living in heaven. Many of us no longer believe in heaven or hell, and even those who do want some of the rewards now, before we die. To me, heaven and hell is just a projection of what we feel right here on earth. It is how we live it. For a few thousand years religion gave us hope that helped us endure the physical suffering of natural disasters… famine, food, disease, poverty of the masses, overwork, and an unfair social structure that made us into slaves or sold us into bondage. Karl Marx said religion was the opium of the people. But perhaps they needed it to reduce their pain and suffering. People were taught to keep their place, (as an underling) Kings could kill their subjects at will. Parents could do the same with their children. Women were chattel. People were slaves. People were taught not to complain, to be quiet, or to do without, and that was a blessing. Anger expressed verbally or emotionally toward any authority, was either bad, a sin, and/or a crime. But have faith, the poor would inherit the earth. (I don’t see how except through overpopulation.) I guess there was no need for slaves, chattel, or money in heaven. People were taught that jealousy was a sin, pleasure was a sin. Sex, except for procreation, was a sin, Women who enjoyed sex were bad, and an orgasmic female a prostitute. However, if you work hard, do “good,” that is, do what you were told to do, and do not complain, you will receive your rewards in heaven. People believed. Many still do. But many of us are getting to a point where we still will not settle, certainly not totally, for future promises. We want our happiness now.
I am very impressed with the founding fathers of our country. They fought for what they believed in. And they wrote it very succinctly in the Declaration of Independence. “We are endowed by our Creator to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Although we are entitled to it, many of us still do not know what it really is we are entitled to. Nor would we know how to get it even if we understood what we were looking for.