If you are, as they put it delicately, “of a certain age,” you will be familiar with the old saying, “If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.”
There are so many things I wish for with all my heart, that if wishes were indeed horses, I would need entire cavalries of them. But I'm pleased, when looking over the things I so desperately want, to realize that those I have for others, and for the world, far outnumber those I have for myself. A rare case of altruism trumping selfishness. Of course I'm not so saintly as to have no wishes for myself; I long to be younger, more intelligent, more attractive, more graceful. But I would settle for going back to who I was before I had my little run-in with tongue cancer.
The bulk of my wishes, again, would be for humanity and the world. Among them are wishes that we were all more tolerant, showed more common courtesy, more compassion, were more educated, and more willing to put the welfare of others above—or at least equal to—our own.
I have seriously considered re-instituting the principle of an eye for an eye. Whatever physical pain you inflict deliberately and maliciously on others, you would experience to the exact degree. (And yes, I recognize the inherent problem of the existence of masochists and masochism.) An eye for an eye is based on vengeance, and already, far too often inhumanity breeds inhumanity. When one behaves no better than those one is attempting to punish, the result is counterproductive in the extreme, and cannot be justified.
So I think that, instead, in my role of an omniscient and omnipotent deity, I would make the punishment for those who have proven themselves incapable of living within society very simple. They and every trace and memory of their ever having been alive would simply cease to exist. No pain. Just cease to exist.
So I condensed my myriads of wishes into one: the wish that God, if he/she truly exists, would take a prolonged vacation and let me take over for awhile. I would do my best to avoid the dangers of another old saying—that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And because I know myself, I doubt I would be immune, and might very easily become a vengeful god. To stem this possibility, I would impose only one rule on all of mankind, one you may have heard somewhere before—do unto others as you would have done unto you. A novel idea, but it just might work.
How others might react to my taking over as chief deity I'm not sure. I've told this story often, but when I was very young, my mother thought I should be exposed to organized religion and sent me to a local evangelical church of the “we are all dirt beneath God's feet” school. I distinctly remember a Sunday school sermon during which the minister/whoever was extolling the eternal happiness and joy of heaven and detailing the fires of hell awaiting those who did not obey God's teachings to the letter. (Looking back, I wonder what their reaction would have been had they known they had a gay child in their midst.) I raised my hand and asked: “If I had a good friend who did something bad and went to hell while I went to heaven, wouldn't I miss him and be sad that he was not in heaven with me?” That went over like a concrete dirigible, and shortly thereafter it was made clear to my mother that she should find another church for me. That lesson led to my becoming an Agnostic, and I take some comfort in the belief that if all my wishes were fulfilled, there would probably be little need for organized religion.
Like the vast bulk of all wishes, mine are, regrettably, unlikely to come true. But that will not stop me from making them, nor should it stop you from making your own. The world may at times be hell, but heaven exists in our wishes.