Maximilian R. Schlechtinger

Education will set you free

„People do not see god, because they don’t dare to look low enough!“, said Carl Jung, when he spoke about humility and ambition. Maybe there is something to it. Humility is what keeps us grounded. It helps us to maintain eye-level with people of lesser intellect, status, or matter of factly ambition. Looking low is the humble part, but it’s just the starting point, because staying low is quite easy. All you have to do is endure.

People speak about the importance of hard work at times. It is strongly depended of whom you ask this question, what kind of answer you get. Hard work is blurry and undefined. it could be anything from factory jobs to teaching university courses. What’s hard is also hard work. But hard work alone is just a mere ingredient in a much larger scheme of things. More important than hard work is aim. It is relatively easy to throw immeasurable amounts if resources, like time, money or even physical labour onto something, yet when it’s undirected, or worse misdirected, it quickly ends up in vain. As Jordan Peterson pointed out, we’re aiming creatures. Our physiology is build for aim. First as hunters and warriors, later as engineers, constructionists and functioning parts of society. Lastly in every day life. We look at people’s aim to infer their decision making. Sometimes, I think, we do this to asses the credibility and integrity of another person. Not only a „Who are you“, but the old latin „Quo vadis?“ – „Where are you heading?“ Aim seems to be important.

But what to aim at and more specifically, why do it at all? Aim is a catalyst to shape progress into action and vice versa. We aim at our goals, our relationships, our salary, our sex-life and our dream houses and cars. A person’s aim determines a lot of what he/she is going to do, most importantly where that person is most likely going to end up at. So aim, after all: Towards what then? The obvious and also most difficult answer is this: The highest possible form of individual achievement. At the heavens, so to speak. Or as the romans put it „Per Aspera ad Astra“ – Through hardship to the stars. That’s the thing. Nobody ever said that it’s going to be easy. Any human endeavour involves the necessary work to be poured into it. Nothing moves until someone gets up and moves it consciously.

When thinking about idealistic ideas of a potential „highest possible good“ it’s tough to imagine a commonly shared image. We all have different ideas of what a good life might consist of. A different outcome for anyone, so where do these ideas overlap. The shared goal might not be the outcome, but the path instead. How do we achieve our highest possible good, if there is such a thing. We aim at it and then walk the necessary path, not because we asses it as an easy one, but quite the contrary. It is hardship, hard work and also hard times, at times.

Living throughout the onset of the 21st century there is a good yardstick of the quality and progress of this way and it is education itself. From Socrates to Seneca, from Dschinges-Khan to the Dalai Lama, yes from Barack Obama to Mahathma Ghandi – they shared a common believe in the importance of education itself. Before taking on their respective life adventures they endured and embraced a longer period of learning. Sometimes that meant school, university  or any other form of scholarly teaching, other times it was accompanied or substituted by practical skills and in-field-testing of formerly learned things. Usually both.

The romans had a word of this idea. They called it the „vir bonus“, meaning the „good man“ in a sense of a versatile and capable man. Being educated means to be capable of achieving things.

This capability is immeasurable and also very much priceless. It comes at a cost though. It will take up a large amount of time and willpower, and not to forget faith. Education only works with faith. The faith that your path is a fitting path for you and the faith that you’ll have the courage to walk it far enough that it’ll amount to something.

Education has the unique power to propel you forwards into the life you desire. It is the single most promising factor of individual social change. It is the one tool in your mental toolbox that allows for a global change and a truly different life. The current circumstances of your life might be imprisoning and caging. There might be no light at the end of the tunnel and not shoreline in sight. A job might be dreadful, a work-life-balance an out-of-reach goal and so on an so forth.

There are two options presenting themselves. Stay or grow. Stay and accept the fading of your soul into oblivion or grow and expect the full force of life’s toughness questioning your ideals. In the end, it’ll be worth it. In the end education is the single most promising factor and the only ticket out of your current mess. It is the catalyst towards the end of the tunnel, because the alternative is stagnation and that is hell in the most literal and archaic sense of the word.

Education will set you free!


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