I think I probably wrote about this before, but the first writing assignment that I gave my students this semester was based on what they hope to achieve by getting a college education.  I usually give such a personally oriented assignment to my students as the first writing project, so that they have something that is accessible to them as they intellectually dip their toes in the water of academic discourse.  I thought that this would also be a good starting point for their development as critical, informed, savvy, and educated thinkers.  They should certainly understand the value of what they are working so hard to achieve over the course of several years.   Moreover, I believe that it’s important for them to understand that their further education is, at least in part if not primarily, about developing into better people.  It is not merely a pragmatic exercise in improving their economic viability (i.e. increasing their earning potential). 

I would imagine that those who see their education with such a materialistic view tend to be more skeptical about the value of each individual effort toward their degree.  I would also imagine that people with such a materialistic worldview tend toward pessimism.  Most of us, over the course of many decades of living through the major events of life, eventually learn this great lesson:  that life is about so much more than just money and the accumulation of things.  At least, those of us who find true satisfaction, peace, and happiness in life discover this lesson.  There is a frequently used quote about materialism which is attributed to billionaire Malcolm Forbes (1919-1990):  “He who dies with the most toys wins.”  Of course, Forbes was known for his accumulation of all sorts of toys:  yachts, jets, mansions, art, motorcycles, etc.  I could not say whether he was a happy man in life, but I have heard so many stories over the years about the unhappiness of various people who had wealth, fame, and power. 

The problem with the pursuit of material things is that they never do satisfy the deeper desires of the heart or the soul.  Jesus himself taught, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37).  One story about ultra-rich John D. Rockefeller (1839-1937) probably best illustrates the futility of seeking happiness in material things. According to Starwinar.com, “Rockefeller was at one point the world’s richest man and first ever American billionaire.  Considering he was a billionaire in the early 1900′s, he is still considered as the richest person in modern history.  When a reporter asked him, “How much money is enough?” He responded, “Just a little bit more.””  For those who try to find peace, satisfaction, and happiness in material things, there will never be enough no matter how much they accumulate.  Like the water in the Greek myth about Tantalus, the fulfillment they seek will always be just out of reach.  They will always need “just a little bit more.”


I pray that you will find true satisfaction, peace, and happiness in The One Who loves you more than you can ever comprehend, our Glorious, Lord and Savior, Jesus.
 


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    I'm a retired soldier, having spent 23 years of my life serving our country, actually 30 years when you count the reserve and National Guard time as well.  I believe in servant leaders, following the example of our Lord, and I believe in giving back to the troops once one has attained a certain status or level of success in life.  But I also believe in fighting back against corruption and incompetence wherever you find it if it hurts people.  Our national values were worth dying for.  They are also worth living for.  A man or woman can actually live a life by these principles of humility, service, love, duty, and honor, and have a significant impact on the world around them...if you have the dedication to see it through. 

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