Link to Ferris Homepage
Print this window
What For? (Lecture.)

The strong, physically robust young man says, "I am going to be a farmer." The ambitious high school graduate says, "I am going to be a lawyer." The business college graduate says, "I am going to be an accountant." A dozen other answers can be obtained from a dozen other ambitious, wide-awake young people.

In replay to any one of these declarations, we ask, "What for?" Do you say, "In order that I may have food, clothes and shelter?" Is that all? The humblest animals of the forest have all that you seek. You are living on their plane with a burden of cares that they know not of. A surplus of food, a surplus of clothes, a surplus of shelter constitute a handicap. The physical necessities are at best only a means to an end. Why make the means an end? Wherein is the millionaire superior to the gardener who has enough and a little to spare? The gardener who commands the physical necessities and knows something of the habits and life of his plants is reading and enjoying the greatest of all books. He is in touch with the good Father of us all.

The farmer who finds poetry in his fields of golden grain, the fruit grower who sees the artist's touch in apple blossoms, the miner who sees in the coal condensed rays of sunshine, answer the question, "What for?"

The teacher who commands a decent salary and bides his time for a glimpse of Hamlet, Macbeth, Enoch Arden, Snow Bound, Sir Launfaul, In Memoriam or Job, answers the question, "What for?" The world offers a richer gift not only to these favored sons of wealth, but to the humble sons of toil. It offers untold riches to the souls that seek daily joy on the higher plane. It is the privilege of youth to ask at every turn, "What for?" It is worthwhile to demand that the farm, the mine, the bank, the office, the factory, and the school give answer to the hunger of the soul. Position, power, and wealth do not answer the question, "What for?" The real answer comes to those who have dreams and visions of the new Jerusalem, the kingdom of heaven on earth, here and now.

Source: Newton, Roy, editor. Life and Works of Woodbridge N. Ferris. (Big Rapids, Michigan: n.p., 1960), 156-157.