I had a different post for this week (I even scheduled it because I obviously have such mad computer skillz! That, and I’m busy and didn’t know if I would otherwise get around to it) but then four things happened: I read a poem, I read a blog post, it was the 45th anniversary of the moon landing, and the conflict in Gaza exploded into even greater tragedy, and they all came together into this post.
Welcome to the leaps of logic which exist in my mind!
Last week, the N.Y. Times featured an article on two kinds of motivation: inner and instrumental. Studying over 11,000 cadets at West Point in the United States, researchers sought to examine the relationship between these kinds of motivation and success. The cadets who were driven primarily by inner motivation (e.g. the desire to be trained as a military leader) were significantly more likely to graduate from the academy and become commissioned officers than those motivated primarily by instrumental motivation (e.g. wanting to get a good job later in life).
As a woman in discernment to become a religious minister, I find myself seeking my own deep motives. Am I drawn primarily by instrumental motives (e.g. the desire to be respected, admired, revered as a result of my future position), or am I drawn primarily by inner motives (e.g. the desire to serve my God with my whole life)? Does it make a difference? Does that difference apply equally to other professions? Why?
I know, that is the way that our mother used to write to us when we were at boarding school. I’m seventy-four, so I feel rather motherly towards you, my younger, thirty-eight-year-self. I know you’ll indulge me.
I’d ask how you are, but of course, I know, and that’s the reason I’m writing. Despite your contentedness with your personal life, I know you worry about the future. You worry about the kind of world your children are going to live in. You’ve read so many articles and books which talk about how 2050 is the year that either makes us or breaks us, that you can’t imagine human life continuing beyond that point. You’re concerned, you feel frustrated, you want reassurance that everything is going to be alright.
People often wonder how it was that, despite the fact that Hitler was very clear about his feelings of anti-Semitism in particular and xenophobia in general, he managed to quite legally (if very sneakily using rather questionable loopholes and mass intimidation) become dictator of Germany in the 1930s. We wonder, when we look back, how it was that people were convinced to let him even hold office, when only a few years earlier, he’d tried to overthrow the government.