Real upward mobility

Is "upward mobility" simply being able to buy a bigger house, a nicer car, better clothes? Or can we find a deeper meaning to success?

Are you "upwardly mobile?" This current catch phrase implies a rosy picture. It suggests striving for greater prestige, a bigger house, perhaps a more expensive car and more lavish vacations. Everyone wants a better life—so what's wrong with that expectation?

Nothing—except that a better life by these external measures is so open to chance and change. The job that appears to provide us with increased prestige and power could dissolve in a company merger. Or the bigger house could be the target for crime or some other destructive element. And the car, or any other of the trappings accompanying so-called material progress, could be stolen or destroyed. But more important, great material success leaves unanswered the question "Are more elegant, luxurious possessions and social prestige really what satisfy the heart's longing for lasting good?"

December 1, 1986

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