But we usually mean forever. It is a religious term to promise rewards or hell and brimstone after one kicks the bucket. But thinking for the long term has its advantages. For one thing, it makes us behave.
My great-grandfather was born on the Sweetwater River in Wyoming Territory in 1847. His parents and grandparents were part of the Main Body (The Charles Rich Company) of the wagon train heading into the Salt Lake Valley. They had suffered at Far West, Missouri and in Nauvoo, Illinois by anti-Mormon mobs.
So why would they go through all this?
It was because of Eternity.
That is what Mormons (Latter-Day Saints) and other followers of religion think about. Living a good life now can bring eternal rewards.
For Mormons, that means the Eternal Family. (I think that almost all people in the world think that they will be with their family in the eternities. Don’t the dead welcome the near-dead all the time? We Mormons just add complications to that system just to make sure.)
The terrorist tied to the Prophet Mohammad who agree to blow themselves and others to bits, think they are going to heaven where blue-eyed virgins will pluck grapes into their mouths. Now if they believe that will be their reward, I have this piece of land in the Nevada mountains that I know has lots of gold on it. It is theirs for a song.
Their reward is that they will die before their time, not leaving a progeny in most cases, and they will be guilty of murder, a crime not easily forgotten by God or Allah. Besides that, they will be pestered by their victims forever and ever. (Just ask Adolph Hitler!)
Their early death is not an act of heroism because they destroy innocent people.
It is a human tragedy because they destroy themselves and their future.
Such courage has a better use.
OK, this may all be far fetched, but thinking ahead to the legacy you can leave behind to benefit others can be much better than thinking all that much about eternity. Eternity will take care of itself. It is our job to take care of others.
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