It is within our power to create our own heaven on earth.
If you imagine heaven, what would it be like? Your answer, like that of most people, would convey your wishes for a perfect world, in which there is peace without any war or crime, prosperity in place of poverty, knowledge and education to replace ignorance, health rather than sickness, love and caring instead of greed and cruelty, and life forever with unlimited capability to explore, learn, and discover. In short, it would be a place where everyone could be happy.
Heaven is also often thought of as beyond our reach, as if it were something that could be bestowed upon us by a more generous and knowlegable being than we humans are. Many people hope to arrive in heaven after their death--that they will be resurrected into a perfect world that is prepared for them. Let's suppose, for the sake of discussion, that that dream comes true. What would happen to heaven if it were populated with people from earth as it is today? If we continue past behaviors we would see that heaven would degrade from its perfect state, as some people would exploit others selfishly, treat others cruelly, pollute the environment and deplete resources, etc.
Of course there is one way to keep that from happening. For those who would ruin heaven, their behavior could be constrained and controlled. Instead of being free, they would be like animals in cages. Perhaps they would not be cages of iron, but higher tech virtual cages that can't be seen but which have the same effect. It is sometimes claimed that wild animals may be happier in a zoo than in a wild state where they suffer from preditors and parasites, but it is still living in confinement.
Is that the way you imagine heaven to be, or do you wish to be free? If you are to be free, and to live in heaven without ruining it, then your behavior has to be compatible with heaven.
When you, and others around you, choose behavior that is compatible with heaven, and when you strive toward building the ideal world for yourself and future generations, that's what creates heaven. If a person aspires to be part of heaven and to live there in freedom, then the person needs to learn heaven-compatible behaviors now, and adopt those behaviors voluntarily.
If we look over the history of the world, we see that there has been a lot of progress toward building heaven on earth. While at one time most people could not read, now the children of most nations receive an education, and books are readily available in libraries and online. While at one time people were helpless against disease, now there are cures and repairs for many diseases and injuries. While at one time the vast majority of people barely managed to find enough food to survive, now in most nations people have abundance, and focus their attention on satisfactions beyond mere survival. Many people now have sufficient surplus capacity so that they can volunteer or donate to initiatives that will bring yet more progress.
One of the most wonderful traits of people is their ability to care about each other and cooperate across wide distances and long time horizons. Simpler animals are at their maximum cooperation capability when they have a pack of a half-dozen animals or a herd of a few dozen. Humans can care about the conditions that others may face, even when those people haven't been seen, and even if they haven't been born yet. So, though our world isn't quite the way we imagine heaven to be, we can take satifaction in bringing it closer to that ideal. Moreover, there is a great deal of happiness that can be found by appreciating the good things we have achieved already.
That is what I meant by saying "It is within our power to create our own heaven on earth." It won't get done within your lifetime or mine, but can be creating it nonetheless, and we can enjoy the legacy we have received from our ancestors who have brought us part way already.
|Return to Universal Ethics home page|
Copyright Arthur de Leyssac, 2018, All Rights Reserved.