The Importance of Right Ideals
An ideal is some desirable thing we seek to achieve. It is always beyond our present attainment; for when we realize it, it ceases to be an ideal. Because it is beyond us, and because we desire it, our ideal whatever it is, rouses us to put forth the effort to reach it. A man, who wants to reach the top of a mountain, climbs.
Different people have different ideals, high and low. An artist has before his mind a standard of excellence in his art, and he strives to reach it; a politician sets himself to reach a position of power and influence; a devout man puts before him a lofty height of saintliness, and will never be satisfied till he attains it; a businessman devotes all his energies to making a fortune. In all cases, the ideal a man sets before him determines the sort of life he will live and the sort of man he will become; hence the importance of choosing the right ideal.
Many people, however, seem to have no definite ideals in life. They are like ships without compasses, sailing to no definite port, and blown hither and thither by every change of wind. They live an aimless life; and what they do, and what they become, is largely a matter of chance, determined by the circumstances in which they happen to be placed. Such people, because they aim at nothing achieve nothing.
To make anything of life, we must have an idea of some sort. A man striving to realize a definite ideal is like a steamship steaming by the compass to a known destination. It does not depend on the wind, but forges ahead by its own innate energy, in the teeth of wind and wave. But if it is necessary to have an ideal in life, it is of the utmost importance that the ideal should be the right one. For the more earnestly we strive after our ideal, the more swiftly shall we realize it; and if it is low or wrong, the more swiftly shall we ruin ourselves. If our ideal is simply to become rich or to enjoy pleasure, we shall lose the best things of life. But if our idea is to serve our God, to do our duty, and to develop our gifts for the good of humanity, we shall make the best of this life, and of the life to come.