It is neither wealth nor splendor, but tranquility and occupation, which give happiness. -Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson, among other things the founder of the University of Virginia and the third president of the United States, is an interesting animal. Or. rather, his legacy is an interesting animal. Jefferson, as he should, will live down the ages as the author of the Declaration of Independence, one of our species most significant written works. He served his country honorably and well for many years, even when he would rather have been at home.
On the other hand, he owned slaves. Not only that, Jefferson was an innovative slave owner, one of the first to use his slaves as collateral and to teach them trades, further cementing their bondage. Even modest reading into Jefferson’s life shows the author of the line “All men are created equal” never did much of anything to end slavery either in his country or on his plantation.
We decline to let this diminish our admiration for Jefferson’s written works, and today’s Thought cuts right to the heart of our human experience.
It is neither wealth nor splendor…
Wealth and splendor are outside influences and, as we’ve discussed here before, we can’t spend our lives answering to outside influences. Outside influences are superfluous and have no bearing on who we are and what we were meant to do with our lives.
But tranquility and occupation…
One of the earliest lessons we can remember learning at school was that every one of us can do something well. All of us were born with different talents and ambitions and our lives – and this planet – work best when we are on our path and answering to them. Wealth and splendor may come the way of people on their path. Good for them. Or bad for them because they can be demanding masters.
But if they don’t, that’s OK, too. For the person on their path, the peace that comes from getting the most out of their talents, of living the life they were meant to live and making their time serve them transcends wealth and splendor.
The Thought for the Day runs regularly. Quotes are from Gaylon’s private stock.