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Can I Be a Success If I'm an Idealist?
Hi Dr Paul,Thinking of the ideal life can sometimes raise some anxiety and fears, perhaps it is a fear of the responsibility I would have to take on to maintain that life. I remember a scene in 300 where an enemy of King Leonidas stated the king's weakness is that of being an idealist, yet look at the legacy Leonidas left. Does anyone have thoughts on this?
It's easy to do what everyone else is doing.
Take Real Estate. Or manning a phone in a cubicle. Or "being a consultant."
It's HARD to take an ideal and make it what your life is going to be about.
Take Gandhi, who thought that ideas and the power of numbers ought to trump fists and guns. Or Nelson Mandela, who thought that if you were born in a place, live in a place, and make a place more beautiful for so doing, you ought to have a voice, perhaps even the dominant voice, in what happens to that place. Or Martin Luther King, who thought that people of different views ought to be able to still coexist and be equal - or even brothers. Or Dr Jack Kevorkian, who thought that people ought to have dignity to their last breath.
As your reward, people may laugh at you, imprison you, kill you, or even tarnish the memory of your existence after they kill you.
If you suspect that the second situation - living for ideals - is what your life ought to be about, then you had better find discipline, friends, patience, persistence and balls of steel.
Otherwise, go do what everyone else is doing.
King Leonidas, if he existed (they killed him, and likely altered history's memory of him), single-handedly made the very idea of democracy last long enough to take root for the next 2000 years and caused the rise of western civilization.
And if you think that sticking with ideals even if you fail a thousand times and still don't make that big a wave in the world - that just trying is still worth it - then by all means that's what you ought to do.
Because on your death bed, you won't have any fond memories of your Real Estate office, or cubicle, or the people whose names you don't remember, and who don't remember you, whom you "consulted to."
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