How can so many great thinkers and writers take opposite views of important subjects?

In her Readers Digest article, "Why  Are We So Unhappy When We Have It So Good" (January, 1993), Peggy Noonan stated, "We weren't put here to be happy.Our ancestors believed in two worlds, and understood this to be the 'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short' one." 

While advocating the moral values of the founders of our country, and the need for appreciation of modern technology and its benefits, her views discourage hope and action for economic and environmental changes needed to improve the here and now.

According to Noonan's argument, faith in God brings satisfaction because the next life, (the other world), will make up for the suffering in this one.  Others argue that seeking first the rule and reign of God's righteousness in this life will bring peace and prosperity right here on Earth.

This is a tiny sampling of the conflicting views that saturate society today.  It is aided by mass media, which for the most part only finds importance of headlines in conflict.  As a result, confusion and despair covers the globe.

This is upside down thinking.  We should give most attention to what we all can agree is most valid and important.  Should faith in God inspire acts of compassion, or activate protection and nurture of the environment (bringing benefits to everyone) the results should be applauded by agnostics.  Actions of this kind by agnostics should receive a similar response by the religious.

What a great future we can have if we put first things first and accent the positive - affirming key points on which we can agree, without denying our differences.  We could turn this world right side up.

As we replace conflict and the works of war with the care of our planet and provide fair benefits for all its people, more time and thought will be given to exploring the great mysteries of life, of love, of time and eternity.

For now, let's prove our faith by our works.  This is the right course for the best of both worlds - the here and now, and the hereafter.

John McConnell
October 1999