At Starfleet Academy (university), I learned the value of looking outside myself in order to form a more objective perspective. Diversity of opinion is important because there are so many unique points of view that I generally think it’s impossible to have a full understanding of a topic unless you take into account how others perceive. In fact, crowdsourcing and taking into account the general consensus on a subject is usually how I determine what’s right. Nonetheless, I think it’s important not to be overly swayed by popular opinion or the current paradigm.
Throughout most of history and still mostly true today, the philosophy of tribalism is the principal that guides many people’s perspective. Most individuals believe that they are correct in their interpretation of religion or that their political party is the one true way. One only has to witness how crowds react when they are assembled to realize how bad mob mentality can be. Online forums have turned into echo chambers filled with vitriol.
Individuals can be just as bad. Otherwise decent, intelligent people can turn vicious whenever their creature comforts are not readily available. The average person tends to judge others far more harshly than they do themselves for the same actions; harsher still when someone does something they haven’t done but have the same capacity to do.
Humans tend to forget that we are far more similar than we like to think. We differ when it comes to biology, upbringing, intellectual ability and circumstances. Most of the things that shape us and cause us to be different are mainly out of our control. If you believe that there are spiritual influences also affecting thoughts and feelings, then that also has to be taken into consideration. As I look up to the stars and stare into infinity, I wonder about the existence that is to come. Is there a heaven, hell or purgatory? What sort of judgment awaits me? Who’s the judge? Do others get to see my life and decide what happens? What will they think if they get to see my thoughts, feelings, actions and are able to read everything I’ve ever written? Will they wish to see me burned alive for some of the stuff I’ve done and thought? Will they accept my contriteness and the fact that I changed?
How will I react if I got to see the lives of others? What are the limits on forgiveness? Clearly we all want forgiveness and leniency, yet how far does that extend? I think most people think of themselves as pretty forgiving but lurking underneath the surface is the viciousness all humans have that seems to extend even to whatever is on the next plane of existence. It seems to be something that’s innate to all of us. One only has to watch little kids interact to see how overly punitive they act toward someone they perceive that has wronged them or that they believe is inferior.
Some are able to suppress their inner vileness to the point where they believe they could be objective and dispassionately judge another. However, EVERYONE has their breaking points. For some it’s smaller scale stuff like lying, cheating or stealing. (Would you want someone who you couldn’t trust in heaven? ). For some, it’s individuals that remind you of your flaws; perceived or real. (who wants someone in heaven that reminds you of your shortcomings) Others still may really think that they are high-minded enough to forgive anything. What about Hitler, what about rapists, murders or pedophiles? What if they were contrite, tried to change their ways and begged for forgiveness? Still willing to forgive?
According to most major spiritual texts, God/the spirits/ancients do forgive all so long as you don’t turn a deaf ear to being guided and that a person genuinely repents. Nonetheless, I do believe that God administers proportional justice/karma in this life or the next. I think when humans think about proportional justice they think about the most extreme things because we tend to be hyperbolic in our feelings that then affect our thoughts. We want to see our perpetrators suffer. Nay, we NEED to see them suffer. I do think God also has a duty to show that there is justice. But one thing I think we forget is that if there is a creator being then that makes them a parent.
Any good parent loves their kid and wants the best for them. An emotionally healthy parent administers punishment to discourage aberrant behavior while hoping to raise a child that is able to get along with others and be independent. Parents also want to foster a loving relationship with their child. Still, all children test thier limits and take for granted all the love they’ve been afforded. As such, the best recourse parents have is to take away privileges.
For anyone that loses their privileges, it feels like cruelty. Kids usually see how much more difficult the world is without the love of their parent(s). Typically, it’s a lot harder to repair damage already wrought than it would’ve been to be appreciative and obedient in the first place. Though in the long run, a child that misbehaves and understands thier mistakes and changes tends to have an even closer relationship with their parent in the long run.
Using the same analogy, it’s a good thing siblings don’t have a say in what happens to us. As a parent, I try to get my kids to understand the logic I use to come to a decision and try to get them to agree but ultimately I make the final decision. If I let my kids decide how to punish each other, they’d brutalize one another. I’d think it no different in the next realm. And like any decent parent, God etc would give us a chance at absolution. I know I would do anything to bring my kids back into the fold. I think the same applies to God.