When one of my friends says something horribly offensive or does something completely mean or rude, I tell them bluntly, "you are going to hell." More than likely, they will laugh and agree, stating that they have already purchased a one-way ticket. Although this is something I commonly joke about, I genuinely do not believe these minor statements or actions are things that will send us to the fiery abyss.
Maybe this is rooted in my belief that, for the most part, all people are inherently good. Maybe it is because, as a Christian, I believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins – I can already hear the angry emails filling my inbox. Maybe it is a combination of the two.
Whatever it may be, I believe the majority of us are going to heaven. Even if I may not get along with someone, I am mature enough to realize that they are not completely horrible individuals – I’m the type of person that does not even like to use the word "hate" when I talk about someone because I think it is too strong and that there is a space for them beyond the pearly gates.
Now, as with everything, there are exceptions to the rule. There are some people in history that cannot be redeemed. These are the individuals that are just so malicious and evil that there is no way they deserve to be in heaven. And this is why I believe there is a hell. I cannot imagine Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot or Joseph Stalin being welcomed into a place of eternal rest and tranquility. If anything, the idea of these dictators along with other evil individuals throughout history enduring an eternity of torture and misery can bring some kind of peace to the world, knowing that karma is at work.
Despite my beliefs in heaven and hell, these are only assumptions. These are only my thoughts, based on what I’ve learned in church and my own ideals on life.
The afterlife is still one of the last great mysteries in society, as it should be. The only way to know for sure what will happen is to die, and, by that point, it’s too late to tell someone (unless you are going to be one of those spirits that wants to hang around Ouija boards for eternity). Heaven could be as glorious as the description in the Bible or in the array of films that show it, complete with fluffy, white clouds. Hell could be as horrid and twisted as our worse nightmares; for me, the best depiction would be "Night on Bald Mountain" from "Fantasia."
Thinking about heaven, hell and the afterlife is probably not the most productive thing to do with one’s spare time, and it could be a little depressing if one dwells on it too much. Yet, while they still compose the great unknown, heaven and hell is anything you want it to be. And that can bring some form of comfort in a world where life seems to be falling apart.