Our society trains young people to be focused on me, me, me. You can be anything you want to be. Reach for the stars! Want to be a doctor? You can do it! Think you can shake and jive like Shakira? You can be the next pop sensation!
American society has tainted its youth to think that life is all about them. I teach at a public high school, and I see it every day. Even most of the kids from low-income families desire fame and fortune — not to help their families get out of debt or achieve a high standard of living; but just so they can be famous, drive fancy cars, and have nice stuff.
This way of thinking does not prepare young people for the real world. In real life, most of them will not be celebrities or own their own company. And that’s OK. It’s OK to be part of something that is bigger than yourself — to be an engineer who designs safe bridges for people to travel on, to be a kindergarden teacher who helps children how to read and write. Young people need to be taught that real life starts when you give yourself to the higher purpose of serving others.
When our society becomes less egocentric, we will really start to move mountains. It’s the people throughout history who have not been concerned just about their own well-being, but about the interests of others, who make the biggest difference. Think Andrew Carnegie, Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln.
Let’s practice living for the bigger purpose. If you haven’t read The Purpose-Driven Life, I highly recommend it. When you are living for something (Someone!) bigger than yourself, then you really start living!