An Eternal Career, by Frank and Lydia Hammer, , at sacred-texts.com
"When wealth is lost, nothing is lost;
Life is forever with us. Indeed, life is an eternal career, yet how many people realize that as immortal souls, their main concern should be to prepare for life, which is eternal. Living is an art with its own inexorable laws, obedience to which is the basis of successful life and happiness.
In spite of this truth, instruction in the art of living, the most important of the arts, is neglected in our institutions of learning. Children are drilled in every description of physical and mental gymnastics, but left woefully uneducated in the ways of life. No one would hope to attain proficiency or skill in any profession without adequate instruction and appropriate study, yet most people are of the opinion that life has no laws, or if it has, they can be ignored and disregarded.
Unfortunately our system of education is most deficient in moral and ethical training. Take for example
the study of natural laws, instruction in which is restricted to the material sciences such as mathematics, chemistry, physics, etc. In the laboratory the student learns that there are definite laws controlling matter. He sees demonstrated that action and reaction are always equal, and that a given cause is always followed by an invariable effect. He knows that there is never any deviation in the operation of these laws.
But here the instruction ends. The student is not taught that every sphere of life has its own laws, and that their action is just as undeviating and irrevocable in ethics as in chemistry. He is not informed that man's physical, moral, mental and spiritual life is subject to natural law. Consequently, many young men and women leave school utterly unprepared for life.
The appalling increase of juvenile delinquency and crime attests to the fact that those who are entrusted with the guidance of our youth have failed to impart the basic principles of a successful life. In our schools, the lack of emphasis upon the character building, cultural values and that honesty is the best policy, results in maladjustment and broken lives for many young men and women.
Youth needs definite and concise knowledge that it is easier and far more profitable to live an ethical life than a corrupt one. That a dishonest man can triumph, if sufficiently clever to outwit earthly laws, is entirely too prevalent an idea. Children follow the example of their elders even when the latter blindly
attempt to break immutable laws, only to find themselves broken. Men who try to cheat both God and man are only too abundant these days.
In order to correct this condition it is necessary that teachers have, not only high academic standards and sound moral character, but also practical knowledge of life, and that they be capable of imparting this knowledge. They should be able to inculcate cultural and spiritual values, and above all they should make it clear that no man is exempt from the great natural laws. They should explain that it is impossible to rob or cheat another without doing the same to themselves. The student discovers in the laboratory that something cannot be made out of nothing; neither can he get something for nothing out of life, although many still cherish this delusion, even in their old age.
Why are there such multitudes of wrecks of humanity dragging their wretched forms through life? Why are hospitals, asylums and penal institutions filled to overflowing? Simply because the laws of life have not been heeded. Long ago it was conclusively proved that crime does not pay. All history fails to record a single instance of anyone ever getting by with it. But there is no lack of proof that men who tried it were ruined in the attempt.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that the moral laws conspire to wreck the unjust and unethical, numerous are the people who try to build a successful life upon a dishonest foundation. They say it doesn't pay to be honest, and they cite individuals who
amassed fortunes fraudulently. That some unscrupulous and corrupt persons became wealthy proves nothing. They see only a part of life; they are not present at the inevitable hour of reckoning. One cannot plant thistles and reap roses on the material plane; neither can this be done on the moral plane.
Eventually the path of knavery reaches an impasse when the misguided one must slowly and painfully retrace his steps and undo the wrong he has done. Retribution is merciless, knowing no abatement, no vicarious method, but demanding that every farthing be paid, every injustice corrected.
Trial and error is foolish and costly; for life is no uncharted sea into which men have been thrown and left abandoned to the mercy of blind forces and cruel nature. Life has been well navigated, and enlightened voyagers have given us the benefit of their experiences. We can follow their wise counsel or we can ignore it. We succeed in proportion to the extent we follow their advice, and suffer in proportion as we disregard it.
Life is merciless to cowards and weaklings who seek to evade its issues and responsibilities and who blame others for their miserable existence. Life eventually forces them to become adult through painful and disciplinary measures, and after they have had abundant afflictive experiences, they will learn that self-rule is the only safe rule.
It is unfortunate that earthly success has become synonymous with money; indeed the man and his money are often well-nigh indistinguishable. It is
foolishly assumed that when a man HAS millions HE is wealthy. Everyone knows men of whom it was said they died rich, when the man himself was actually a pauper and should have been listed amongst the world's neediest cases. Then happily we all know men of whom the reverse is true; men who were poor in the eyes of the world but who were genuinely rich in spiritual goods.
A distinguished writer on financial affairs who has known all of the wealthy men of the past forty years, said that only one of them was happy; and he wasn't happy until he had given away his money. Too often, in order to reach the coveted top of the economic pile, friendship, love, ideals and ethics are sacrificed. Not the money, but how it is made, does the damage. The black magic of wealth pays its dividends in loneliness, bitterness and unrest. And the ambition which strives to attain the material top regardless of method, invariably leaves its victims at the spiritual bottom.
Who would call an unhappy man successful? If you would know whether or not a man is successful, look not at his bank account, his house or his automobile. Look at his face and see what is written therein, indelibly engraved for all to read.
It is well known that far more rich people commit suicide than poor; for people who have everything money can buy often find life intolerable. Others who rely upon the outward semblance of wealth for happiness and security, become so bored with life they take refuge in drugs and drink in order to
endure their vain and empty existence. Such individuals attribute to money a power which it does not possess, namely, the power to bestow happiness and peace.
Man's real existence is spiritual, and consequently material possessions cannot satisfy his soul. All earthly happiness wears a crown of thorns, and he who seeks it in material things is doomed to disappointment. Moreover, there is no happiness in bondage whether that bondage be circumstances, emotions, bad habits or wealth.
Staggering is the price some people pay for material success. One wonders if the game is worth the name. Which is better, to be poor and obscure at little cost, or to be rich and famous at terrible cost? Moreover, it was written of the rich and not of the poor that the Kingdom of Heaven would be hard to enter. For riches more often than poverty stultify the soul. There are many things more worth striving for than money and fame.
Of course, desire for happiness is a mainspring of endeavor. Also it is natural for men to desire recognition. But the happiest people are those who have the loftiest goals. Those who don't know what they are living for should ally themselves with a worthwhile cause, notably one which renders service to mankind. Because happiness grows from such an alliance.
It is erroneous to suppose that all men crave wealth and fame. Many do not desire these at all, but wish only to be useful to society and to leave the world
a little better than they found it. Those who live for others choose the wiser way; for no matter to what heights of success a man may attain in business, political or professional life, he can always be replaced. There is, however, one place in life which a man may vacate and leave forever empty. That is his place as a good father, a kind and loving husband and loyal friend. No worldly success can equal these in satisfaction for the individual.
A financial success is not within the reach of all, while a successful life is. Developing character is infinitely more meritorious and laborious than making a fortune. Then, too, great financiers are often abysmal failures as builders of character, which is the real purpose of life.
He who creates character in himself produces a masterpiece of far greater worth than one created out of paper, canvas, stone or wood. He who develops his mind and soul accomplishes the highest work of genius,the loftiest achievement possible for man on earth or in heaven. Nobility of soul is the most valuable acquisition, and this is neither negotiable nor purchasable. It is obtainable only through moral, mental and spiritual endeavors. Capitalists who buy titles of nobility for themselves or their children get as phony an article as dime store jewelry.
Life is a constant struggle; in fact without struggle we cannot even retain that which we have gained. The Scriptures tell us, "That he who ruleth his spirit is mightier than he who taketh a city." A military
genius, a conquering hero is applauded by the multitude. He is decorated, photographed, flattered and showered with adulation. But he who wins a victory over himself wages a lonely fight and wins a solitary triumph. There are no medals granted, no recognition rendered, no honor bestowed and no public acclaim. Yet the victory he has won is greater than any ever gained upon the battlefield. He has conquered himself.
We have often heard people say they had no interest in a future life,that this present, terrestrial existence was enough for them. The time will inevitably come when they will regret not having given some thought and preparation to life hereafter. He who lives for this life only is as foolish as the man of whom the Master spoke who built his house of life upon sand; or the one whose philosophy is "take thine ease, eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die."
Earthly life should be lived to the best of our ability, but not as if it were all; for life follows life in endless succession. Those who were remiss in their duties before coming here found themselves poorly equipped for the struggle of terrestrial existence. Those who neglect the present and fail to make preparation for the life to come will similarly find themselves sadly deficient in spiritual requirements. We should live so that we will have more assets than deficits. We should think less of what we can hoard and more of what we can take with us. Far better to accumulate spiritual wealth, treasures
in the Heavens, that faileth not, where no thief approachest, neither moth corrupteth." Far better to be right with God than to be right with man.
And if we have made a few hearts happier, a few minds wiser, lifted the load of a few fellow-travelers, we shall have done a work acceptable to our Father in Heaven. We shall have made a success of life.