Values in Life by Rudyard Kipling
In Values in Life by Rudyard Kipling we have the theme of greed, honesty, conflict and acceptance. Taken from his A Book of Words collection the reader realises after reading the speech that Kipling may be exploring the theme of greed. Kipling states to the students in attendance that one should not be wealthy for wealth’s sake. In reality an individual should be wary of becoming greedy and to be content with their lot when it comes to the issue of money or wealth. A life is wasted by the constant pursuit of wealth and should a person chase wealth they should also ensure to live a balanced life in whereby the left hand and right hand both know what the other is doing. It is easy for a man to forget to have balance in their life and by doing so they will only suffer. Though suffering may not be how the individual feels. Wealth in reality is an illusion that man chases thinking that they will be happy. Yet the poorer man can be happier than the man who is wealthy. Another pitfall of wealth (not stated by Kipling) is the fact that those people who are in your life may not necessarily be in your life because of who you are but rather because of what you are. A wealthy man.
There is no honesty when it comes to being greedy. People will become irrelevant and act only as players in a dramatic play that you are directing. With the sole purpose of obtaining more wealth. It is better to be honest with people as to your purpose. Though at the same time this might limit your prospects of obtaining more wealth. Wealth is also not something that will make a person happy. It is a goal that once achieved continues to rear its head in the hope of even more progress. Chasing money or wealth in reality is a waste of time and deflects an individual from their real purpose in life. Kipling may also be suggesting that an individual should use what they have learnt for altruistic purposes. That being in an effort to help others rather than chasing wealth. Which may have its appeal due to the very nature of mankind. One of the most natural vices for man is to be greedy. To want more than they have and believe themselves to be unhappy till they achieve their goal of getting more of what is it they desire.
It is imperative that a man does not become ‘smart’ as defined by Kipling. That he gives back to those who are less fortunate and who may be struggling in life. It is better to help an individual through life than witness from a distance their downfall. Knowing that you yourself could have helped them overcome any difficulties that they may be incurring. Kipling himself is aware that his thoughts on wealth may be considered laughable by some. Something that the reader is also aware of by the laughter by some of the student’s when it comes to Kipling’s speech. Though it is a difficult road to travel. Thinking of others before yourself. It is still none the less just as rewarding to an individual. Despite the fact that it may go against learned behaviour or human nature. Kipling though older than the students is fully aware that his ideas may not get the recognition he thinks they deserve. However he is still prepared to stand alone on the matter. Possibly because he may have more experience of life than the students.
The end of the speech is interesting as Kipling accepts that there are some who his words will fall on deaf years. People (or students) who will pursue wealth with great gusto and forgo any link with humanity. To those Kipling suggests that their peers keep them on the right track. Even if the matter has to be resolved by conflict. This may be important as it suggests or highlights just how strongly Kipling feels on the matter of wealth. To him it may be the scourge of society. A man chasing wealth for wealth’s purpose and forgetting about his fellow man. Those who chase wealth will also find that they will isolate themselves from others or only engage with like-minded people. Yet they will learn more about life by engaging with the man who does not believe in wealth. Regardless of how enticing wealth may be to an individual. As mentioned accumulating wealth is something that is very natural to man. The desire to have more. Yet life can become one long chore with no rest when an individual pursues just one goal. It is better to be poor and happy than wealthy and miserable.