I recently had a glance at some ideas proposed by one Peter Lynds, a physicist who claims that the universe itself is cyclical in nature, with a never ending sequence of Big Bangs & Big Crunches. ( During a Big Crunch, the universe collapse upon itself, before the next Big Bang occurs)
He also proposes that "all events and times in the universe are already mapped out". Now this gives rise to a disconcerting thought, that the way our lives will play out is also determined, and that perhaps we have lived this life countless times over. While I don't know how we will reconcile this with our religious beliefs, I feel that there is one possibility which I will discuss below. Now these ideas are entirely my own creation, and therefore should be taken with a bucketful of salt.
The traditional way of thinking would be to think that there is no room for change, that we are simply playing our assigned roles, the fatalist viewpoint.The 'whatever happens is for our good', ' God is testing us', 'Everything is written on our forehead' etc viewpoints.
There is another possibility, I believe that God designed the universe as a zero sum entity, incorporating a Cosmic Relative Grading.This theory supposes that while there is room for individual lives to unravel differently, the sum total of our activities should be the same. Thus , if we are to develop ourselves, and achieve something more than what we were supposed to, someone else needs to be an under achiever. As an MBA student, I am kinda partial towards the wickedness of this idea, and this to my mind, is perhaps THE answer.
One thing is almost certain, life is not a fairy tale, where every one is achieving the best is not possible, and this is a fact known to man, however he may try to deny it. We may call it whatever we want, survival of the fittest,fate etc. What we can however do is to ensure that the spread of riches is more uniform than it is now, to try and see that no one flunks the course called life.
As Gandhiji put it "There is enough on earth for everybody's need not for everyone's greed."