HEAVEN ON EARTH: IS IT POSSIBLE?
Heaven can be defined several ways. Out of the six entries offered by the “American Heritage Dictionary,” there are only two that the humanist would recognize: “1. The sky or universe as seen from the earth; the firmament.” This first definition refers to a physical place other than Earth, so it is not applicable to this discussion. The last definition is the only form of heaven a humanist would recognize and perhaps dream of achieving: “6. A condition or place of great happiness, delight, or pleasure.”
A place of great happiness, can there be such a thing?
Happiness, being a “quality or state,” cannot refer to a place such as Earth. Happiness can, however, be used to describe the state of Earth’s inhabitants, humans included. The United States’ Declaration of Independence recognizes happiness as being an inalienable right, yet happiness was left undefined because the state that evokes the feeling humans call happiness will differ from one individual to the next, it being purely subjective.
Since a particular condition cannot be created on Earth that would make ALL its inhabitants happy, it must be true that each human is responsible for his or her own happiness. That means that each individual must figure out just what happiness means to them and pursue it wholeheartedly. Finding happiness might mean adopting a particular worldview or religion, earning enough money to live a certain lifestyle, or relying solely on the Earth for one’s subsistence.
Those who do embrace a particular worldview or religion and find happiness there should be congratulated. Of course, if they do find happiness there they may be inclined to share their beliefs with others so that they too might find happiness. There is nothing wrong with this. Things go terribly wrong, however, when people attempt to force their beliefs on others. That is what is so great about the United States. You are free to practice any religion you wish. You are free to hold any worldview that you desire, whether it brings happiness or not.
There are many things that happen on our Earth that are absolutely horrific. Must all of this horror be stopped in order for humans to achieve individual happiness? No. There are many people who claim to have found happiness, if only temporarily, in spite of the horror. How can we expect to be happy knowing of such horror? The answer lies in how we as individuals process information.
Religions offer ways of thinking that help some people find happiness in spite of such horror.
Man is pretty clever to have created religion to aid in his happiness. This is an outsider’s point of view, of course, as the efficacy of religion relies on its adherents’ faith in God and its particular scripture. It is not necessary to adopt a religion to find happiness, but it is one method of seeking happiness.
For most people happiness is not a continuous state of being.
Most humans experience a range of emotions and states of being. We can’t expect to be happy 100 percent of the time. Happiness is achieved, presumably, when it becomes one’s predominant state. Because all human beings will never achieve this state simultaneously, indeed some never will at all, “Heaven on Earth” will never be achieved. If a fail-safe answer to happiness existed, what would be left for humans to ponder? But we CAN achieve a heaven-like state in our minds. Not there yet? Keep seeking; someday you may find the answer to your happiness.