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Why are we here?
In a recent television programme called "The Wonders of the Universe,"
two questions were asked. The first question was: "Where do we come
from?" and the second question was: "Why are we here?"
I don't suppose that any of us would feel that we could answer the first
question: "Where do we come from?" because, as William Wordsworth
wrote in his poem "Intimations of Immortality":
Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting.
The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar.
Certainly, it is very unlikely that we would be able to answer the
question "Where do we come from?" but that does not mean that we
cannot think very seriously about the second question "Why are we
here?" And "Is there a purpose to our lives?"
Of course different people will have very different ideas about why we
are here. Some people may think that we are here to make as much
money as we can, to get as much pleasure as possible out of our lives
or even, perhaps, to achieve positions of power where we can influence
There are, of course very different views that we can take about our life
on earth. The first is that we are here to get the most out of life that we
possibly can even though it means that other people might suffer in the
We know that the aim of getting as much money as possible is one
followed by many people; sometimes by theft or through unscrupulous
business dealings. Of course, the idea of getting as much pleasure and
wealth as possible can be a very attractive one even though our concern
for our own well being may well make us less sensitive to the needs and
suffering of those around us.
There is, of course, an alternative view; the view that we are actually
here to help others by sharing with them the great and joyful moments
in their lives as well as in times of pain and suffering so that we visit
them when they are lonely, support them in bereavement or just listen to
them as they talk about the things which concern them.
One of the wonderful things about being human is that we are free
to make choices about the kind of life that we want to live; either a
life where we grab what we can for ourselves or a life that concerns
itself with the needs of others? Will we choose to make our own lives
the centre of our universe or will we choose to put others first and
remember those words of Jesus: "Freely you have received, freely
It really can be a difficult choice for many of us to make but, whatever
we decide to do, it will be an important decision — a decision that will
ultimately affect, not only our own lives, but the lives of those around
us. However, the choice is ours.