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Life: A Means or an End

May 16, 1900 — Commencement address, Harmon Gymnasium, University of California, Berkeley CA


We see rich men working that they may become rich or powerful or famous. At first glance some seem to be heaping up gold, not that they may use it, but that they may enjoy the satisfaction of having more than their neighbors.

If one takes a closer view he sees that, while many men seem to be striving to better their surroundings, yet on the whole the end is not selfish.

[Everyone needs a goal in life that is both honorable and immediate.]

Let us scorn to strive for unworthy things, or to toil, unheedful of the present, for a future which is like a far-off dream.

Life is acting, doing. When we act our many-sided natures, we bring all of the past to the present and are all that we are, then we live. For we must be our whole selves. It is what we are and do that counts.

[Life should be “for life’s sake and nothing else . . . Let us refuse to lead narrow, one-sided lives. Let us push forward in the path of progress by living out each day as it should be lived. . .

We believe that life is its own end. There is no break. The future grows from the present. We must be what we are and say what we think.



Source: Oakland Enquirer, May 16, 1900, pp. 73-75.


Also: Making Time: Lillian Moller Gilbreth, A Life Beyond “Cheaper by the Dozen,” by Jane Lancaster, (Boston: Northeastern University Press) 2004, pp. 52-53.