Thursday, May 23, 1996
The challenge of life
For most of human history, the daily lives of ordinary people were literally consumed with simply staying alive. Top priorities were getting enough food to eat, maintaining some kind of shelter, having clothes to keep warm, and avoiding dangerous threats such as wild animals and invading humans.
By forming, refining and participating in civilization, we have largely freed ourselves from these immediate concerns. We have developed efficient systems which provide high quality food, clothing, shelter and physical security.
As a result, the immediate, physical challenge of everyday life has largely disappeared. Our consequences have grown more long term. A pre-historic hunter would have gone hungry very quickly had he suddenly chosen not to work. The modern-day worker can use savings, credit cards and food stamps to hang on through years of unemployment without going hungry.
Yet life without challenge is meaningless. As our most basic needs are met, we must develop higher and higher aspirations in order to provide a worthy challenge. In some ways this goes against our nature, because for thousands of years mere survival was challenge enough.
Think about your legacy for a moment. Realize that thousands of years of blood and sweat and strife have put you where you are -- with your microwave oven, air-conditioned car, Internet access, 50-channel cable TV, cellular phone, supermarket and dishwasher. The old challenges have been met. To bring a fulfillment to your life demands that you fashion and pursue your own challenges. It is an exciting opportunity and a serious responsibility.
Ralph MarstonOpening your mind You might as well
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