The allure of honor, fame, and attention drives us to all sorts of bad decisions in life. And we waste large parts of our day chasing ambitions or social affirmations that not only don’t fulfill us, but perpetually tempt us to chase more of the same.
In this scene from “A Man for all Seasons,” Richard Rich (an ambitious man, though with demonstrated susceptibility to even small temptations/bribes) is expressing his desire for higher social status and career advancement (in this case at court). St. Thomas More gives him some wise career advice:
THOMAS MORE: But Richard, that’s a little bribe. At court they offer you all sorts of things, whole manors, manor houses, coats of arms. A man should go where he won’t be tempted. Why not be a teacher? You’d be a fine teacher. Perhaps a great one.
RICHARD RICH: lf I was, who would know it?
THOMAS MORE: You! Your pupils. Your friends. God. Not a bad public, that.
Oh, and a quiet life.