To judge any change as progressive or regressive, we must eventually ask ourselves the Big Question: what is our final end, goal, purpose, “summum bonum” or greatest good. We must ask nothing less than the question of “the meaning of life,” however unfashionable that question has become. If we don’t have a clear vision of the ultimate finish line, we can’t even know whether we’re running toward it or away from it.

But to perform these cures one more thing is necessary. Even if the patient has received the perfect diagnosis, prognosis, and prescription, he will not recover if he will not take his medicine. The will is the key that starts the car of the psyche. “The readiness is all.” If we do not will it, it will not happen. Wishing, dreaming, longing, and thinking, even the clearest and most rational thinking, will not move our feet one inch.

There always comes a time, after thinking and inquiring and writing and reading, to put those things away -- not because they are mere toys, or because they are dispensable (they are indispensable!) but because they are means to a greater end. They are maps, and maps are means for moving, for marching. An army of map collectors will win no battles.

So let us march.


Peter Kreeft (Ph.D., Fordham, 1965) is, in order of importance, a Roman Catholic, married with four children and five grandchildren, Professor of Philosophy at Boston College, and the author of sixty-five books. This essay is excerpted from Disorientation: How to Go to College Without Losing Your Mind (Ascension Press, 2010) and is reprinted with permission.