Friday, January 2, 2009

Is That All There Is?

"Is That All There Is?" is a song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stollerand recorded by Peggy Lee.  Wikipedia says of the lyrics: The lyrics of this existentialist song are written from the point of view of a person who is disillusioned with events in life that are supposed unique experiences. The singer tells the story of when she saw her family's house on fire when she was a little girl, when she saw the circus and when she fell in love for the first time. After each story, she expresses her disappointment in each experience. She suggests that we "break out the booze and have a ball — if that's all — there is", instead of worrying about life. She also explains that she'll never kill herself either because she knows that death will be a disappointment as well. 

 On New Years Eve we had a discussion about Life, Death and Hereafter.  It was a very interesting look into the minds of others, all of whom are +60, raised as Christians, and are open-minded.  No Bible-thumpers were present to chill and stay the conversation.

None of the guests were certain of the Hereafter and none were 'reassured' by what was written in the Bible.  All of us knew Scripture and heard it read to us all of our lives, but no one declared that there was a Heaven. Further, no one thought that there was a Hell.  On that we all agreed.

One man, an engineer by training, proposed a visualization of the Bell Curve.  The curve, he said, represented the 'General Welfare' phrase that we find in the Preamble to the Constitution.  He wondered if collective society was meant to reshape the curve by pushing the two extremes towards the center.  With each passing generation, this theory suggests, humans were able to pass on to the next a 'better' life, whatever 'better' means. Less disease, less poverty, more food, better shelter and more opportunity for humans to have time to muse, to create art, music, literature.  War, it seems, always pulls the curve outward, extending one side, the 'underprivileged' section, further.

We came to the conclusion that when the 'curve' became more of a triangle, then humankind was moving forward towards a more perfect existence.  Also, as the base of this triangle became more narrow, humanity could declare that the 'common welfare' was indeed becoming a reality.  Then came the thought that if the triangle's base became infinitely small, it would become a line pointing upward. That,  several agreed, would be as close to 'god' as we humans could get.

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