Ideals

The ideals which have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been kindness, beauty and truth.

All genuine ideals have one thing in common: they express the desire for something which is not yet accomplished but which is desirable for the purposes of the growth and happiness of the individual.

God is the source and goal of ideals by which to live triumphantly in the face of starkest grief. The sufferer who finds God as the strength and mainstay of his life does not merely acquiesce before the inevitable with stoic fortitude. He looks the tragedy in the face, and looks up to new heights of spiritual beauty to which he may mount by using his grief as a stairway to God’s glory.

Faith in God is synonymous with the brave hope that the universe is friendly to the ideals of man.

Purpose directs decision making. We look for leaders with vision, people who can imagine possible futures, describe desirable ideals, then tell us how they might be achieved. Our willingness to accept direction in almost all walks of life suggest that many, if not most, may actually prefer to be told what to think, how to behave, and what to buy. Being told simplifies life.

Much marriage difficulty and unhappiness are due to the failure of the partners to accept the fact of their finiteness and its meaning. Instead, they hold themselves up to ideals of performance possible only to God.

Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul… You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.

Beautiful ideals, which are creeds, not deeds, are religious window dressing and are meaningless. The test of faith is life.

Not all ideas and beliefs and ideals have equal merit.

Precisely what we need are good theories to focus our attention, a good set of ideals to guide our action, and good visions of the future to mobilize our energies.

Thoroughly living life requires initiative, risk taking, sustained action against the odds, making sacrifices for ideals and for others, and leaps of faith. People who live such lives report being happy, hopeful, and exhilarated – even when they fail.

Ideals are thoughts. So long as they exist merely as thoughts, the power latent in them remains ineffective.

It is easy to be honest enough not to be hanged. To be really honest means to subdue one’s prepossessions, ideals - stating things fairly, not humoring your argument - doing justice to your enemies... making confession whether you can afford it or not; refusing unmerited praise; looking painful truths in the face.

Children whose souls are stunted in the shadow of relativism are left without noble ideals and moral goals to raise their sights above immediate self-gratification.

Men's manners have improved markedly since Genghis Khan's day. Harems went out of style centuries ago and even despots now disavow pillage and oppression as ideals. At heart, though, we're the same animals we were 800 years ago. Which is to say we are status seekers. We may talk of equality and fraternity. We may strive for classless societies. But we go right on building hierarchies and jockeying for status within them. Can we abandon the tendency? Probably not. For as scientists are now discovering, status seeking is not just a habit or cultural tradition. It's a design of the male psyche - a biological drive that is rooted in the nervous system and regulated by hormones and brain chemicals.

There is no such thing as ethical truth. However, those committed to humane-egalitarian ideals can make a truth-claim rare and precious: they can look reality and the truths of science in the face and find nothing that makes them flinch.

Find meaning not in possessions or positions, but in personal commitments to ideals bigger than our own needs. And the ideals that seem to consistently provide this kind of meaning are ideals of service-of acting for the common good and overcoming whatever risks and obstacles may lie in the way.

Where would we be without prophets, visionaries, nonconformists, ironists, and dissenters? The great ethical traditions, both religious and secular, as well as literature and the arts, are filled with eccentrics - complex characters who challenge, inspire, and irritate those around them. They flaunt conventional wisdom, stubbornly champion new and unsettling ideals, love those whom others deem unlovable, or are themselves considered strange and unlovable.

Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old by deserting their ideals. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair.

A significant life - one that is more than just happy or meaningful - requires dedication to ends that we choose because they exceed the goal of personal well-being. We attain and feel our significance in the world when we create, and act for, ideals that may originate in self-interest, but ultimately benefit others.