You teachers are fools. You nurses are suckers. And you soldiers are losers. Do you realize how much money you could earn if you had a real job, like being a stockbroker, a real estate agent, or an entrepreneur? Such is the logic of Donald Trump, who believes that meaning comes from material possessions and personal wealth.
But there are those of us who find our happiness and value in serving others. In my case, my students’ success is one thing that brings me considerable fulfillment and real joy. For instance, a former student of mine wrote me last week to tell me that she started her first job as an elementary school teacher. She is working in a Quaker school with a small group of fourth graders. Her passion for her students, her commitment to her job, and her desire to improve the lives of others-these are the things that bring me immense happiness.
Put simply, I do not measure my success on the basis of the material goods or personal wealth I accumulate. I base it on what I give to my community, specifically on the happiness and well-being of my students. In the profession, we call this service, by which we mean our contribution to the public good.
I know that people like Donald Trump have contempt for those like me, that they consider me a failure because I will never be rich. But when I think of highly successful people, I think of those who are rich in character. They have given much to their community, and to do so, they have frequently had to make personal and sometimes painful sacrifices. Nurses, teachers, and soldiers are just a few people who have enriched our lives beyond materialistic measure.
We should not call those people who make sacrifices for the public good losers or suckers. We should see them as individuals who find happiness and fulfillment in non-materialistic ways. Everything doesn’t have to be transactional and money-driven. There is still meaning and value in sacrifice and service, and those who choose to live accordingly should be honored and respected rather than mocked and belittled.