I believe that we are meant to struggle. That the notion of heaven is incompatible with and contrary to our corporeal reality. (I will leave my thoughts about Heaven as an after life for my soul to myself, as far as I know I have never been there so I don’t have any first hand accounts of what my soul would experience there.)
For the record I was reared in a Catholic family and have had the basic religious training and indoctrination that occurred among the flock during the middle part of the Twentieth Century. I believe that the earth is billions of years old and that there is a God. I do not believe that The Bible, nor any other Holy Book(s), is/are the literal word of God(s). I am comfortable with my amorphous definition of the supreme power to whom I pray though many would find my acceptance so disjointed as to be untenable. I share this so that we can try not to get bogged down in evolution versus divinity. I believe in both, you don’t have to agree with either!
We exist because of struggle, not because of ease, and to worship ease is to worship that which is contrary to our nature. Things that we have to work for have more value than things that are easy or free. This even applies to love. The man who loves everyone loves no one, because there is no differentiation between one person and another. I do believe in loving my neighbor (Which would include all homo sapiens, a value to which I claim to strive, not one that I have yet to achieve.) I would also caution the man or woman who loves everyone to use protection as viruses do not believe in the value of Man’s brotherhood.
Which brings us back to struggle. Nietzsche said, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” (Stop singing the Kelly Clarkson song in you’re head!) but he left out the portion “or maims us for life.” I am enough of a twentieth century guy to believe that survival of the fittest is reality, that a characteristic that promotes survival under certain circumstances is far more likely to be passed on when those circumstances exist.
This is why Germanic people now have the smallest thumbs of anyone on the planet. We have all heard the expression “Rule of Thumb.” This comes from The Lombard Laws, a codification established by people we now call Germans in 643 CE. The Lombard Laws were an attempt to establish rules of engagement. For instance if someone killed your uncle Max you might go and try to kill someone who was important to the perpetrator. This sort of thing lead to a lot of time, trouble and blood in the streets so they came up with pithy little rules. One of the rules might be that if I killed your Uncle Max then you could make me pay you money in exchange for not killing me.
What does that have to do with Germans, small thumbs and “Rule of Thumb”? One of the rules was that a husband could only beat his wife with a stick no bigger around than his thumb. The frauleins learned of this and before long all the girls were swooning after men with the tiniest thumbs imaginable. “Ach,” Fraulein Blucher would say to her mutter, “dat von wit de small thumbs is heavenly! He shall be mein husband!” and in the following 1,400 years German thumbs have gotten smaller and smaller. BTW- The Lombard Laws are real, German thumb size is still being analyzed.
So struggle is what makes us what we are. Do not confuse struggle with suffering. Suffering is out, struggle is in. Pre Vatican II suffering was fashionable but now, not so much. Hair shirts are out and we leave most of the self denial and mortification to the Emo Cutters, after all they do tend to wear black robes too!
It is through struggle that we find purpose, that we learn how to overcome diversity and it is through overcoming adversity that we grow. Damn! Trifecta! Hat trick! Trinity!
So I get discouraged when in our humanity we try to make every thing easy. We create gizmos to make work push button rather than muscular. We create social safety nets where no one has a hard landing due to adversity whether the adversity could have been easily forecast and avoided or not. Problem is our bodies have billions and billions of years of history of being physical, not just cerebral emotive lumps of amorphous eternally catered adipose tissue. If we are given everything then we value nothing. If we can not fail we will never value success and this is why I become disenchanted when we try to make heaven on earth because what we are creating is contrary to our essence.
So I urge all of us to do as the great prophet Marley commanded, “Get up, stand up: Stand up for your rights. Get up stand up; don’t give up the fight!” because life is a fight and struggle and loving one another and competition and cooperation and a million other seemingly contradictory values all slamming round in the mosh pit, but what it most certainly is not is certain.
So lets embrace the challenge and live rather than bemoan how hard it can be. Because if we think a life that is struggle free is heaven on earth then we need to understand what kind of creature human beings are, and just as we are not meant to suffer needlessly nor are we designed to live in heaven. We ain’t angels and we just don’t belong in that neighborhood.