Monday, June 27, 2011

“No Regrets for Our Youth”

In a recent publication titled, “An Open Letter to Graduates” NAPF President David Krieger asks several thought-provoking questions to the future leaders of our world. While some of the questions require sincere self-reflection, others empower a sense of responsibility and commitment to change the world for the better. While reading the letter for the first time one question reminded me of a recent conversation I had with my older brother, Joe. “Does your education lead you to believe that money will buy happiness?”

For as long as I can remember, Joe has been one of the people I respect the most in my life. He works extremely hard, thinks for himself, and makes the best of every situation he’s in. On my last trip home he told me that he didn’t feel like he was really helping people in his profession and it was starting to take a toll on his life. This came as a shock to me since he went to a great school and spent the last several years working a well-paying job for a busy medical practice. He said, “It just seems like when I do help people, it’s in a very indirect way and I can’t help but think that I could be doing more.” What I learned from Joe is that the root of a fulfilled life is not success, but how you benefit humanity.

We have all heard the joke, “Money can't buy happiness, but I'd rather cry in a Ferrari.” I have to admit that I too would rather cry in a Ferrari, but here are the facts: a Ferrari won’t promote a safer planet, a Ferrari won’t stand up against injustice, and “a Ferrari” is not a suitable answer for our grandchildren when they ask us what contribution we made to the world during our lifetime. According to David’s letter, the true path to an enriched and happy life is through compassion for others, courage, and commitment. And these qualities are worth far more than a $200,000 Ferrari.

I recently watched a Kurosawa film called, “No Regrets for Our Youth.” The movie follows the story of a spoiled girl named Yukie who only cares about the superficial elements in life. When she falls for a man who is arrested for protesting the Fascist government, she realizes how empty her shallow life had been. This movie is significant because it teaches us that it is never too late to support something bigger; something that will benefit mankind and the generations to come. We all have traits that resemble Yukie prior to her transformation, but if she is capable of change then so are we. David’s letter is addressed to recent graduates, but we can all learn from the questions he asks us to consider. Check it out.

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