Like many others, today was spent reading and hearing news about the killings of the cartoonists in France. Lucky for the world (please note the tide of sarcasm in this next sentence), politicians have spent the day consoling the public on how terrible this is.
As far as I can see… all the talking heads, heads of state, bobble heads and head-up-the-backside commentaries jump to one side (This is NOT what Islam is all about), or the other (this is 100% what Islam is about). I don’t really care which side of that spectrum you’re on, because it’s not what the real heart of the matter is for me. To me, the issue is something much deeper, and I’m going to share a story from an Idaho potato farmer that addresses it pretty well.
While working at an art gallery several years back, a man came in and stopped at an image we had of Christ and his apostles laughing together (“Come and See” by Liz Swindle) . The image touched him, and he turned to me and said (through a cheerful smile of his own), “It’s about time someone painted Him laughing! If I get to heaven and they ain’t laughing, I’d just as soon go to hell!”
And so it is with me and a heaven as preached by any religion who thinks violence, sex and killing are requirements to get through the pearly gates. If I have to kill, fornicate, injure or hurt another person to get to THAT heaven, it’s not where I want to spend eternity!
For most people, you’ve likely felt the joy of SERVING others and bringing a smile through an act of kindness. It brings a smile to see another person smile. It makes us happy when we can make others happy. It feels GOOD to be GOOD (Deep, isn’t it?) This is a basic tenant of humanity. Some people on this planet have missed this basic concept, however, and believe they’re following a different path that will get them to heaven or some glorious eternal dwelling place for their soul. For me, to be a resident of a place where the inhabitants have raped, murdered, killed or tortured others to get there doesn’t sound like the kind of place I’d want to live, especially for a long time like…eternity.
I may be crazy, but I’d rather spend forever in a place where people are there for serving people rather than shooting them, caring for others rather than scaring them, and lifting our fellowmen up rather than gunning them down…
And for those who aren’t sure which version of heaven to work towards, try kindness towards your brothers or sisters on this planet first. See how wonderful it feels. THAT’S the feeling I want to have throughout eternity, not the feeling of sadness you see in the eyes of someone you’ve hurt.
So, to paraphrase an old potato farmer – If it takes hurting, injuring, killing or angering others to get into your heaven, I’d just as soon go to hell!