Sic Transit Gloria Mundi - Thus Passes Worldly Glory

Updated: Jul 24, 2021

In life, it is often tempting to seek credit for our successes and recognition for our ideas. In doing so, we often become disappointed when our works are not recognised by others. However, this is misguided. While credit and honour are pleasant to receive, they should not be our goal.

Instead, we should remember the ancient phrase, “Sic Transit Gloria Mundi” (Thus passes worldly glory). This phrase reminding us of the transient nature of worldly honour should focus us on the good we aim for, not on the empty platitudes of others.

By this, I do not mean that we should reject honours, or that we should disavow our contributions. Rather that we should act with our ‘Purpose’ in mind and be unconcerned if we will receive the credit we deserve or not. Instead, focusing on if we have enhanced our families’ and communities’ welfare or not. As Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, ‘You can achieve much if you are unconcerned with receiving the credit’.

Most of us inhabit humble stations in life and assume that we have little power to affect change in our world. However, this is not true. If we are willing to forego the empty glory of receiving recognition for our actions or ideas, much can be done. At the risk of seeming to brag, while being a person of obscure background and little standing, I have managed to achieve at least two great successes in the public sphere, neither of which I received any public credit for. Both successes have contributed to the welfare of my family and my community, and I take no little satisfaction from them. However, if I measured them from the objective of credit or honour received, both would be failures.

Much of life is like this. The credit rarely flows to the most deserving person. Instead, the honours and accolades tend to come to the famous, the self-promotors, or the leaders. But what is that to us? Our aim is not to be famous or honoured but only to promote the welfare of our families and ensure their survival. If we achieve that aim, then anything else is a bonus. But if we fail and, ultimately, our families are destroyed, then what good is all the honours in the world?

Life is short, and we are never guaranteed a tomorrow. So, let’s live today well, focusing on what is truly valuable and ignoring that which is superfluous. Wealth, power, and acclaim are nice but they are nothing compared to our families.

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