A challenge from ghosts and the pursuit of happiness

During difficult times, I’ve always wished I could turn to my dad for advice.

The problem is, my dad died when I was a teenager. Those moments never came.

But I still imagine sitting next to him. He puts his arm around my shoulders, turns to me and says, “Fight the good fight. Finish the course. Keep the faith.”

I’ve thought of these words every time I’ve been in a struggle and questioned what I needed to be doing.

These words have always given me strength and purpose.

But even though I envision these words coming from my dad, they actually came from St. Paul.

More specifically, 2 Timothy 4:7

Paul is an old man, and he is giving advice to a young Timothy.

Paul tells Timothy, “For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths.”

To me, this does not sound like a description of a society from 2,000 years ago. It sounds like this moment in time, here in America.

The free market and capitalism – the miracles that have lifted billions of people out of poverty – are attacked and demonized.

Socialism’s trotted out again and again as the mythical antidote to all societal ills, while proponents casually ignore how that system has forced generations into dependence, destitution and starvation.

So what do we do?

This is where St. Paul puts his arm across our shoulders and says, “Fight the good fight. Finish the course. Keep the faith.”

This is the challenge we all face today, to fight for the values and principles that forged the greatest nation in the history of the world.

To not succumb to the myths from naysayers and critics who claim the American Dream is dead. To finish the course, and to continue to strive for the fulfillment of the American ideal of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

None of this is easy. It’s why St. Paul needs to deliver a pep talk.

But the payoff is we create a better world for our children and our grandchildren. They will know we sacrificed, we suffered – not for ourselves, but for them.

The same as our grandparents and our parents did for us.

One day, my children, Fiona and Rocky, will come to me for advice. When they do, I’ll tell them, “Fight the good fight. Finish the course. Keep the faith.”

And I have faith they, too, will be fortified by these words and answer the challenge.




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Matt Paprocki

President @illinoispolicy the nation’s leading state-based think tank.