The message we hear from our education and business sectors is that purpose has something to do with career or perhaps power. We assume our purpose is to take our sword and shield and ride into battle. What if our purpose is to enjoy a good dinner? What if our purpose is to play a game with our children? What if it is to watch the sun go down?
Now in a sense, I’ve been a warrior—working with at-risk youth and advocating for services for people with disabilities. Did any of this make a difference? I guess it did for the few who got services. I’m sure it didn’t change the policies of those I called morally bankrupt.
So after all my hard work, evil runs rampant like a firestorm. At-risk youth take guns into schools and shoot other students. Justice for those who come into this world with disabilities caused by industrial toxins has fled behind walls of lack of funding. I see other warriors throwing themselves against the wall to little effect. People continue to work hard for long hours and live in grinding poverty that destroys the soul.
So we are surrounded by injustice that we cannot defeat. How do we then find purpose for our lives? Is there a secret method for turning our backs on injustice and rejecting the lies about purpose?
I do have an image in the back of my mind that seems to contain a clue to living with purpose. When dealing with the school district for my foster daughter, I did eventually turn my back on others’ sense of right and started my own school using home-school laws. My school became a much gentler experience for our children. While other students labored in a classroom, our children went bicycle riding or played with their horses.
Somewhere in the image of sitting in the sun with a few other mothers while our children practiced riding in a ring with their horses, I think I find the answer to my questions about purpose.
Purpose is much gentler than the world would have us believe. It involves enjoying life without doing harm to others. It is about a modest but adequate lifestyle. How do we get there from here? I don’t know. I see what needs to change, but I also see the obstacles.
Do we still need those warriors who throw themselves against the wall of injustice? Do they make a difference? Do they help contain some of the evil? I’m afraid that we do need them for a while. Now, I am back to the question of how to live with the gentle purpose of loving one another when the forces of evil are actively trying to deny the common person the resources necessary to live a modest but adequate lifestyle.
In the end, I must conclude that while our purpose is to sit in the sun, watch our children play and enjoy the gifts of the world, I very much fear that battling injustice is a vocation. The trick is to keep one’s eye on the true purpose of life without being distracted by the vocation. I’m not very good at separating purpose from vocation. I still feel the need to hack away at injustice to the point that I forget to sit in the sun and listen to the birds singing in the trees.