If one were to ask: "What is the purpose of this comprehensive emphasis on education?" Most likely, the answer would be: "To be able to go into the world equipped to make a good living, of course." While this response appears to be a practical, responsible, and even admirable, it tends to give rise to the question: "What is a good living?" Admittedly, one would judge a prime end of education to be the increase of the opportunity to acquire one's monetary or material goals, to live the good life. However, life's meaning must not devolve into the credo of consumerism lest the task of striving to earn a living becomes living to earn. Success would be measured solely by the number and value of one's possessions rather than the depth and profundity of one's thoughts.
"LEAVING SCHOOL TO TURN PRO" is a headline frequently found on the sports pages of local and national newspapers. The story following it narrates a tale of some highly talented, collegiate athlete who has decided to forsake his or her remaining time in college in order to pursue a career in professional sports. The reason is money-big money! For the time being, at least, academics and a college degree are discarded. Invariably, a debate ensues about the wisdom of such a decision, the appropriateness of college sports organizations for allowing this practice, and the meaning of participation in college athletics. One side argues that college is a place to receive an education and that its sports programs should not be deemed a Minor League for professional sports. The opposition holds the view that the education provided by a college curriculum is designed to afford the individual student the best opportunity to increase their earning power. Thus, the athlete ought not be chastised for leaving school before graduation in order to sign an extremely lucrative contract with a professional team. Isn't that the point?
Is living all about money or even education? These are only instruments that one employs to a greater or a lesser benefit to the art of fashioning a living. A solid and sound perception of true living supports the growth and health of the whole person. Scripture relates Jesus' desire to give each person life and, indeed, life to the fullest. In Christ one finds the answer to the question of what living is. One is taught how to attain a living in its completeness, its essence, and its destiny. The life's work of an individual in relation to himself or herself and to the society in which one lives is to grasp the will of God and to grow in it. The keys to discovery are faith, hope, and love. Living is the process of giving the product of these active gifts of God to others and to the world.
"Live in the spirit of God, making the best things, in the best possible way, for the best purposes. Even a child can understand these ideas, yet a great mind cannot improve upon them." -Theodore Parker
A society needs to sustain an affinity for the enhancement of entities devoted to the spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and physical growth and well-being of its members. The place held by moral tenets and humane principles ascribed by a government to its citizenry determines the degree and value of civilization extant in that society's understanding of itself and its purpose. These elements define the quality of life experienced by its people. Someone once said: "It is a truism that universal education is one of the essential characteristics of modern democracy and that the quality and content of the education provided is a clear indication of the quality and tendency of the democracy that provides it."
Living, learning, learning to live requires a child-like grasp on the hand of God and an eagerness to be led down avenues of mystery and wonder. One must willingly labor to apply the lessons experience teaches. Wisdom will gradually unveil itself. Each stage of life unfolds by offering a new Reading List to the student/traveler. One cracks the binding of a volume of the story of living and discovers truths about what is useful to take from life and, as a child of God, what is best to give to it. Someone once described civilization with words that aptly represent true living by calling it: "the slow process of learning to be kind." Finally, one may assay one's living based on this divine truth.
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