What is your purpose? What gets you up in the morning? What do you think about? What centers your day? Something. You may not think so, but it matters, and not just to you.
What is that something? Worry, fear, fret over forgetting something – or curiosity, wonder, a mission, hungry heart, faith, ambition? Do you ponder lifting those who cross your mind – or get trapped in the news, others’ political views, and let the aches define you?
We do have a choice – let pit stops missed distract us, or focus on laps left to be run. We can worry about what might have been, or put our attention on what remains to be done.
Do you start with remorse, regret, some shapeless shadow that slows your motion, or are you the sort with things to build, letters to write, places to go, skills to hone, always resilience shown?
In a larger sense, our whole nation is in a mid-history crisis, uneasy with who we are, not sure we should be proud of what we have always been, unsure of why others miss what we see.
We worry about America’s kids getting these mixed, muddy, misguided messages – yet that, too, is cause for action. It can either drag us down or lift us up, create ambivalence or create resolve.
We all know – if few say it – that today’s indulgent, fictional culture, this artificial righteousness about unrighteous causes, narcotics made legal for fun, boys invading girls’ sports, locker rooms, and bathrooms, dumbing down math for “racial equity,” redefining biology, rewriting history, playing God, and promoting violence for peace – is dangerous.
Most realize that nations, like people, go through phases, get swept into false enthusiasms, radical fads, collective dissociation from reality, sudden certainty about what is objectively uncertain, preoccupied with what others are distorting, what intelligence calls circular reporting.
We know that fear can be paralyzing, shiny things mesmerizing. The key is perspective, shaking yourself out of that personal funk created by absorption in the latest national funk.
Historically, collective misconceptions – social and political – have risen, ruled a bit, retreated, been defeated. The tide comes in, deposits what it will, and the tide goes out. We just happen to live in a time with lots of flotsam, lots of garbage around us.
Linking our day to the nation’s plight, we teach purpose by having it. Republics depend on sound mental and emotional health, since that is the stuff on which the rest is built, on which the future will bloom or wilt.
While adults define today, kids define tomorrow; what they are taught defines the future – and here is the hope, too. If we rise with purpose each day – conviction to move forward – we teach that lesson. If we give up, we teach giving up; if we get up, we teach getting up.
Think about it. What regenerates national and personal growth, re-stokes the fire, alters the life of a person or nation, makes us suddenly revive, rediscover our stride, and strive? The answer is simple, attitude and acting on it – more simply, having a serious, good, animating purpose.
Recent studies show America’s kids are confused, disoriented, misled and dismayed, unclear what they should believe, disheartened, unsure of who they are, even lost. But they can be found.
We know dreams are worth their weight in time, that finding and working toward them changes a life. We know risk and failure are essential for learning, growth, and success, and yes – even allow some to find storms in which to dance. Sometimes, all we need is an example and chance.
We know that society’s current confusion around history, morality, sacrifice and service are troubling and real, that uncertainty does not forge nerves of steel. We know in dangerous times –in any time – no good comes from substituting political fervor and froth for truth.
So what is the answer? How can we, as individuals, help replenish the nation’s life force, correct the collective attitude, and restore direction, focus, dignity, and compass? How can we help to calm uneasy hearts, settle the unsettled kid, do for others what others once for us did?
How can we – and society as a whole – reset the dial, teach kids to respect themselves, get up and be strong, go the extra mile, respect the nation’s past, ideals and founding, finally to smile?
We have to recall how those lessons were taught to us in childhood, not disown them, not pretend it does not matter. We have to direct ourselves at America’s youth, and talk truth. We have to rise with purpose, teach it, just as purpose was taught to us.
This thing I am talking about amounts to not giving up on ourselves, on the next generation, or on the nation. The task is simple because we know how to do it, hard because it is always hard. The glass is both half full and half empty; challenges can both drain and sustain.
The choice is on us. We awake each day, brush our teeth, set our course, imagine ways to use the day – with purpose, wondering, thinking, and doing – or not. We decide, teach the way, or slide.
Living with purpose is a real thing. It lifts the individual, lifts the society filled with such individuals. Elevated, these societies lead – ours long has. What we forget is that every day we teach – ourselves and others – by what we do. Living with purpose…is the intergenerational glue. We can, at our best we do.
Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.
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you don;t have a purpose in life. none of us do. the purposed was fulfilled when your mom and dad finished having sex or the day you were born. from there on you are just a drain of resources.
Well if you don;t believe it look at any famous person. they result of their efforts 50 years later will always be corrupted.
Sorry I totally disagree with you.
My purpose is not determined by my parents alone, but by God (my Creator) who designed me for His purpose. I have a particular purpose as I worship and serve Him. I am not a drain on resources that God has blessed me with to fulfill my purpose.
Seek Him and He will guide you to fulfill your purpose and the blessings to help you.
Thoughtful, appropriate comment you made Elaine, Good sense, good reasoning, good guidance — in tune with what the will of God and having a sense of purpose is all about.
Amen, Elaine! Since we are made in God’s image, our purpose is to glorify Him in all we do. God bless.
The Word of God tells us to “love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our mind and all our strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves”. What a different world this would be if we all would adopt this as our purpose!
How many people would be willing to cleanse their bodies and souls from all unnecessary electronics
There is a great deal of good thought in your article ” Living With Purpose”. The idea that the Nation is in a mid — history crisis and that artificial righteousness and unrighteous causes are things that need to be dealt with makes sense. Having a sense of purpose, and living by a code of conduct , provide a foundation for the various challenges that present themselves . Depending on the circumstances it could be that the code of conduct becomes the main part of the sense of purpose. Being a good influence on others , setting a good example, As Christ spoke in parables , to convey the spirit of his teaching , Light being metaphor for Truth, for the will of God, the messages that youth need to be sent should be understandable — so, respect for truth, respect for kindness, fairness , for people and animals ( much to be learned from simply observing what critters do ) that combination of good things will help maintain the sound mental and emotional health of the Republic. Well Done , Robert , the spirit of Faith, Family and Freedom !
Indeed, Rob, you are absolutely correct! Can’t do it without a focus on Jesus. “This world is not my home”.
Great article! Lots to ponder. I, personally, greet each day with a smile, a sense of wonder , and a heart filled with gratitude. To be a witness to the sun rising in the east, is never guaranteed. I pray that with this new day I will focus on being a better “me” and be there for anyone who needs a smile, helping hand, or simply someone just to listen.
As an educator, I have learned over the years to lead with purpose, truth, and resilience. My students or, as I like to call them, my children ( I don’t believe you have to biologically give birth to a child to love them as if they were your own) look to me as a trusted model/confidante and a lifelong guide. Many of my children have continued to reach out to me for guidance for over twenty plus years. It is an enormous responsibility, but a divine blessing, as they are trusting me to provide them with the tools to live productively, fearlessly, and resiliently, in the present and future. Together we have read the great novels like Fahrenheit 451 and 1984, studied in depth many periods of history, and regularly try to find the truth by discussing our current global issues. Unfortunately, our youth don’t trust many , as it is very hard for them to trust those who continue to let them down or ignore their needs. So, Robert, you ask what is my purpose everyday; this is my purpose each and every day. I cannot make a difference in this world arguing over politics or pointing fingers. I can only make a difference by being kind, compassionate, and empathetic.
Susan, what a great example and testimonial. From Bradbury to Orwell, from focus on educating to knowing what not to waste time on, your statement is itself inspirational. Bottom line: The AMAC generation was the beneficiary of several generations ahead of us, actually dozens but several in our lifetimes, who cared – about kids and the future of America. They also quite rightly expected us to do that. This – this twin but intertwined purpose – is what, on good days and bad, should animate us… and, not coincidentally, it lifts those who act on it. With thanks for your reflections and engagement, as this is what AMAC does – what we should all do, i think – we care about and fight for the future. Thank you!
Thank you for the article. I agree with your comments and also with what Susan W added.