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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Success in Today's World

Life is a series of events.  How we manage those events determines our success as human beings.

Whether or not I accept the above declaration as true hinges on how I define the word success.  If I drop that word into a Google Search engine, I am told  that success is a noun.  I am told it can mean three things:

1. The accomplishment of an aim or purpose
2. The attainment of popularity or profit
3. A person or thing that attains desired aims, purpose, popularity or profit

I look at this definition and I ask myself, does this definition fit?

What is my aim or purpose?  For a Catholic, my aim is to love God, to serve God and His creatures and to spend eternity with Him in heaven.  My purpose is to be a saint, to be (in the words of a popular Catholic writer), the best version of myself that I can be so as to bring glory to His Name.  My purpose, my aim in this life is to be the type of person that attracts others to Him.

Will this allow me to attain popularity or profit?  Maybe.  I will, most likely, be very popular with some people and I might even be able to support myself while living the principles of Catholicism in the workplace.  I also have to accept that, with other people, I will not be very popular.  With those people who put the world first I will be considered an odd ball.  My experience is that people are uncomfortable with odd balls and have a tendency to try and make their lives miserable.  There will also be that group that will adopt some or part of the Christian life and proclaim that they have 'reformed' the Teachings of Jesus Christ and anyone who still clings to the 'old ways' is a bigot, a hater, a person not in touch with today's reality. 

My popularity, therefore, may not manifest itself in any earthly way.  I won't be elected to city council if I proclaim myself Pro Life.  I won't get to be the mayor if I state I do not believe in same-sex marriage.  Sure, I can tell people that I do not intend to not honor the laws of the land but they are going to have to accept the fact that I am a Catholic, I do not believe in sending tax payer dollars to organizations who provide abortions and I do not believe the government has a right to license a sacrament.  This stance will not get me elected to anything, including dog catcher.

My profit will probably be small.  I am not very business like.  I am good at administration stuff, not entrepreneurial stuff.  I like the fact that I am about to retire after 30 years at my job and will collect a little pension and medical care for the next 35 years (I plan to live at least as long as my Mom and she is 95 right now).

Yet my profit, at the end of time, may be the greatest of all - I will not lose my immortal soul.  If I stay the course and walk the talk, I can hope to be saved.  I can hope to hear those words, "Well done, my good and faithful servant".

Success is, as I see it, manifested in how I handle the every day trials and tribulations that come my way.  It means I must acknowledge that I have it really good right now - no one is holding me at an airport, no one is shooting at me as I walk to Mass, no one is telling me that God has okay'd my rape at the hands of Isis and that I should be grateful to be able to be a slave of someone who thinks women like me do not matter.  I do not have to march through the streets dressed as a woman's body part in order to feel important.  I am, right this minute, successful.

Tomorrow may be less successful...I don't know.  It is not here yet.  What is here is today and today, because of a loving God and His Church and 24 years of being in the 'pure breath league', I am a success.

How about you?

1 comment:

R.L. G said...

“Life is a series of events. How we manage those events determines our success as human beings.”

Declarations, models and metaphors all suffer from the same weakness. They all must be explicitly defined, and the situations they are used in tightly constrained to those previously identified definitions, if the declaration, model or metaphor is to work “successfully.”

There was I time that I was attracted to simple and seemingly direct statements like the one you mentioned. I imagined that I could nuance my way around the ambiguities and contradictions, but later found that nuance was a way of lying to myself and others by other means. “It’s a complex situation, and you need to study it carefully before you understand it. Here, let me help you…” was code for “avert your eyes and believe what I say.” Nuance was a crutch, a get out of jail free card so that I would not have to rigorously defend a statement.

This is not the same thing as claiming that a subject is complex, but a way of denying complexity. Like it or not, some things are too complex for analysis, be it by human or computers. GIGO still reigns, and a day at a time, 24 by 24, is a good way to live.