Everyone loves a good story. Fables, myths, legends, adventures of all sorts are the kind of things we thrive upon. Since Homer sung of Odysseus in the Iliad and Odyssey, up to the most modern incarnations of Superman, our souls thrive upon stories. A good story is food, for it uplifts our spirits and binds us together with friends. A good story becomes part of our life foundation, laying a bedrock of beliefs guiding our storm-tossed lives towards a constant star. Yes, stories are an important part of our lives.
The story I wish to tell is of a soul, like Odysseus, fighting nature to find his true resting place. Unlike the most wily of men, the soul in this story is yours. For your soul must constantly obey and battle the forces of nature in order to maintain an even keel. You must breath, eat, and sleep. Part of you desires companionship, another a sense of accomplishment. You must fight darkness and cold, the press of humanity and the oppression of both enemy and friend.
This story I wish to tell takes your soul first to the end of its journey, to heaven; a place where love is plentiful and the pain of reality a dim shadow. That such a place may exist has been told in all cultures, from Jesus to Buddha, every tribe, every culture has described its own version of a place where the dark forces of nature no longer apply.
What makes the stories of Jesus and Buddha powerful is that they describe the path to heaven. Other men have told similar stories: Gandhi and Schweitzer. They all begin as ordinary men, but through great trials end up becoming something greater. We extoll them as pinnacles of humanity, but in everyday life pay them little heed. Great churches and temples exist to help other souls reach the same heaven, with unknown success. These places of worship seem more interested in their own survival than the elevation of their members.
The story I wish to tell begins in heaven, and then returns you to the world of men. For it must be in the world of men that change takes place. And it must be the entire world of men that attains heaven, for it does you no good if only you attain heaven. We are a connected world, a small planet in an infinite cosmos.
What is that heaven? How is it best described? Believe it or not, you already know the answer, for you have already been there. For it is the heaven of a blissfully ignorant child. A child who grows up in love, and support. A child who does not know the hatred of a neglectful or resentful mother. A child who does not know the rejection of an absent father. A child who does not know the hate of a country or culture that denigrates others. A child whose school days are absent of the aimless bully. And finally, the blossoming child who never knows the hatred of the opposite sex, turning innocent thoughts of love into a tool that wrenches their heart apart. This world, for as long as it can last, is the heaven we wish to reach.
We all knew that heaven, if only for the most fleeting of moments. Taking each event in turn, that moment lasts longer and longer. At some point in your life you came to the heart-wrenching conclusion that hate exists, and you hardened yourself to that fact. You cried. It may still make you sad. But you learned to live with hate. Up to that moment, you lived in heaven, a world without hate.
How do we attain that world again? How can we all work towards a future where hate is an emotion studied in textbooks as an artifact of our primitive past? There is a way to try and attain that future. Follow me, Gentle Reader, and see if it isn’t possible to reach that heaven together.