Warren Buffett when asked to sum up the basic point of life went for this formulation.
The purpose of life is to be loved by as many people as possible among those you want to have love you.
Remarkably similar to Adam Smith’s formulation actually – that what we crave most is deserved approbation.
I was reminded of this reading this story of Vicki Shackleton who is one of those saints in our community – what other word can one use – who are true to that Christian saying:
For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed me. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.
Vicki made it her business to take in the troubled and abused children of the world, and to house them and help them. Of course if you were successful it would give you an incredible rush of satisfaction. In any event, why we don’t give these people our highest honours, instead of handing out AOs and ACs to those who have usually done a very good job of looking after themselves is a mystery to me.
Anyway, the story is one of those ‘2 of us’ interviews in the Good Weekend. Vicki helped save the life of Erica Morgan whose Mum was schizophrenic and who’s Dad died when Erica was very young. Erica is doing fine. And what does she want to do? Reciprocate:
Erica now lives with Craig. He’s a beautiful boy. And she’s now done a bachelor of arts at Newcastle University. Her ambition was always to be a case worker, to help other children who were in similar circumstances to her. She just got a part-time job at Barnardos, mentoring children coming into care. She was so excited when she came to tell us she had the job. It’s another stepping stone. Life is looking pretty good for her.