Understanding September 1987
THE IMPORTANCE OF ‘IMPORTANCE’
Every person, whatever their age or sex, has their own idea of ‘importance’, and of the amount of it that is inherent in each situation, event or possession with which they are concerned. Most people attempt to direct their lives according to the ratio of importance which they attribute to each aspect of it. A typical example of this habit might be illustrated by the case of the Doomsday fanatic who met a professor of astronomy on the street one morning. The fanatic was waving his arms and shouting, “Repent!, repent! The entire earth will be destroyed at noon tomorrow!!” To which the professor of astronomy calmly replied, “Why get so excited? After all, it is not as though the earth was one of the major planets.” (In this case, the Doom Prophet was, by force of habit, thinking of the population as the most important element in the predicted event, whereas the astronomer was, by force of habit, thinking only of the relatively minor astronomical importance of the planet to be lost.)
The importance of events or situations, are usually divided into three classes, individual, local and general. The winning of a large lottery prize, or a severe automobile accident, might be events of great importance to a single individual, or his immediate family, but of little importance to others, and so would be classed as an event of single importance. A gold strike or a forest fire could affect the lives of many in a given area, and so would be termed of ‘local’ importance, while War, a national economic boom or depression, would be of ‘general’ importance. The degree of the importance would, of course, depend upon the effect the event or condition had upon the person or the population involved.
It is natural for most young people, when planning their lives, to hope to become ‘important people’, seldom realizing that to become an important person one must think important thoughts and do, or become connected with important things. This does not require exceptional ability or intelligence, but may, and usually does, require more effort than most people are willing to make, and thinking that begins where other’s thinking usually ends. An example of this kind of thinking was shown when a new recruit was being examined at the enlistment station. During the questioning, the officer asked the new recruit if he would be willing to die for his country. “I certainly would not if there were any possible way to avoid it,” the recruit replied. Wars are not won by fools who die for their country. Wars are won by the country which best helps the fools on the other side to die for theirs! This may seem to be a rather callus example of factual thinking, but it is probably one of the best arguments against war that has ever been uttered in so few words, and if everyone would spend a little time thinking about it, would probably end war forever. (At least it would wipe out the last of the phony glamor that is still associated with war by some youthful adventurers.)
The one talent that most surely brings importance to an individual, is the ability, in ones youth, to choose tasks and goals that are important to everyone, in one way or another, and to follow the tasks and goals through life. This course can bring fame and fortune, or it may bring persecution and even death, as it did to Abraham Lincoln and many others, but in any event it will bring importance!
What lie behind us, what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
(handwritten) Put you hand in the hand of God & be secure!