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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.

Norman Voake