I spent all my adult life focused on one goal. Money. I thought about how to get it, how to get more of it, how to spend less of it. I tried to learn everything I could about every way to become rich. I strived to spend ever more of my time building things to earn me money. I wanted nothing more or less than to be the richest human. Money was a score card to me, in this great game of Life. I always play games with intent to win. If I don’t think I can win, I don’t play. Money and ever more money was my goal.
Why? What is in this idol to give me such drive? What is money for? For the satisfaction of desire. Pure unadulterated Will. Money is the power to do as you please, and there was much I pleased to do. I wanted to do great things with this money. I wanted to do silly things with this money. But mostly, I just wanted to make my name known, to feed the furnace of Pride that rages still within me.
And then I read an article. Not even really an article about money at all.
It may not seem an effective way to make things happen, but taking obvious public success as the standard means aligning ourselves with the principles on which public life is currently based, and that means certain defeat.
This offhand remark from James Kalb, not really meant to be about life’s purpose or motivating goals was, for me, a real encounter with Wisdom. Why should I consider money to be the scorecard for this life? Only because that is the standard “on which public life is currently based.” Our depraved civilization sacrifices it’s children through abortion and immigration so that we may earn for ourselves yet more money. More! As if the richest country in all the history of the universe needs more. In this there is not life, but only death, and “certain defeat.”
I floundered for a week or two.
And in my floundering I read and meditated on the words of the great Christian sages who came before me, Aquinas (by way of Feser), Augustine, and Chesterton. And without even realizing it, I found a new goal. A new purpose. A new mission for my life.
What use is it to have money, that is, to have the power to do as you wish, when you do not yet know what is worth doing in the first place? Life has objective meaning. It is not created through our mere will. All the money in the world would let me do nearly any thing I wanted, but it would not help in the slightest to know what I should want to do. For we all know that not all of our desires are good, and not all of our desires should be satisfied.
If Money is for doing as you wish, Wisdom is for knowing what to wish. Wisdom is for doing what is right, not merely what you want. Thus, Wisdom pre-empts money. Wisdom is more valuable than money. Wisdom is to be pursued and desired.
I have only just begun my search, so I cannot give a complete answer. But, “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,” and I shall start there. God is Wisdom, Truth, Beauty, Being, and Goodness itself. In Him these qualities are transcendental. They are all the same thing. So, to really attain Wisdom just is to really attain God, or perhaps the Beatific Vision of God. To know Wisdom is to know God.
So, what is my goal?
To know God.