Are Your Life Goals a Waste of Time?

Chapter two of the September 11th Epic Poem opens with the following stanza:

As Tuesday dawned a nation yawned
            And faced a day of sweat.
Their human hearts had metal parts
            With Lincoln’s silhouette. 
A penny made is int’rest paid
            To mortgage back your dreams,
But ev’ry seed that’s sown in greed
            Will leave by other means.

            This verse can be very confusing, which is why I feel obliged to write a short post clarifying what my intention was in writing it. Sometimes, in order to make a poem rhyme, a poet feels the need to use phrases that could have multiple interpretations within the given context. The reason we do this could be that we’re lazy, or perhaps because we want to make our audience stop and think.  You can decide which is true in this case.  I would tell you what my opinion is, but obviously I’m biased.

            The first half of the verse is clear-cut.  When I say that “human hearts had metal parts with Lincoln’s silhouette,” obviously I am asserting that many of people’s actions are directly motivated by their desire to make money. But is this a good desire or a bad one? My own opinion is that money itself is inherently neutral, but there is a great potential for it to motivate us to sin in order for us to amass the fortune which we so strongly desire. The Bible famously says that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (I Timothy 6:10).  I believe that many people have destroyed their lives, and even their eternal futures, just to make a buck. Money is a powerful source of sin in our lives because it easily seduces our naturally selfish, egotistical souls.

            The second part of the stanza describes the role of money in fulfilling our personal ambitions.  When I say that we use money to “mortgage back” our dreams, what I mean is that we often pursue it as a means to achieving the happiness and contentment that we feel we have lost. This life is full of disappointment and pain everywhere we turn, and money is the “god” that we trust in to rescue us from our present state of unhappiness.  Unfortunately, money is incapable of doing this.  It cannot bring us true joy: at best it can only “pay the interest.”  If we are very luck, an amassed fortune can keep us from becoming more miserable than we already are: it cannot make us content with our lives. Those who trust in it are trusting in a false savior.

            The final part of the stanza is a warning to those who use their money selfishly.  If we spend what God has given us for pleasure when we know we should be using it somewhere else, the money which we wasted will “leave by other means.”  In many cases this will happen literally: greedy people with no self-control often end up dirt-poor.  However, this is not the primary interpretation of the poem.  The point that I’m trying to make is that this kind of spending will leave us spiritually bankrupt. It will deepen the pit of despair, hopelessness, and disgust that has settled in our souls.

            Of course, everyone is already spiritually bankrupt to begin with. It does not take money to damn us to hell. Unless we’ve been saved through the gospel we’re already on our way there.  But the love of money, on account of its ability to shorten life and deaden our senses, may help us get there faster.

                        “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)


2 Responses to “Are Your Life Goals a Waste of Time?”

  1. 1 anne nakis June 1, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but MY life’s goals were a waste fo time. My dreams died primarily for the LACK of money, so while I’m generally sickened by greed, I realize too late that I needed to think about money in younger years a whole lot more than I did, if I wanted to have any of my dreams and real personal freedom. As a low-income person in this society, I can tell you that you only have extensive personal freedom if you can afford to buy it.

  2. 2 schildan June 1, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    You are right that young people should think about money. It’s important, on a practical level, to realize how it will impact our lives. I think many people’s dreams, including many very good dreams, like having a family for instance, died for the same reason you mentioned.
    But in the end it’s your spiritual riches that matter. Where will you spend eternity? Many a poor person who have repented from their sins and turned their life over to God will be rich in heaven.

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