Searching for the 'one thing'

A Word to the Wise
By: Tom Rupp
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In the movie “City Slickers” a character named Curly holds up his finger and says, “Do you know what the secret to life is? One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean (nothing).” Someone asks him, “But what is the one thing?” Curly replies, “That’s what you have to find out.” Sometimes life is distilled for us in a convenient aphorism. An aphorism is a concise statement of a principle. We hear or say them all of time. The problem with many of them is that they are not necessarily absolute. One of Isaac Newton’s laws of motion, the basis for classical mechanics, states that “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Well, for every aphorism there is an equal and opposite exception. For instance, which is correct? “Look before you leap?” or, “He who hesitates is lost?” How about, “Knowledge is power,” countered by “Ignorance is bliss.” Here is one of my favorites — sure, “the early bird gets the worm,” but “the second mouse gets the cheese.” There are more, but tedium sets in. Some folks today talk about “my truth.” This is “my truth,” much like my car, my dog and my house. It is my truth but it may not be yours. Is there such a thing as “our” truth? Is there something that is true for you, true for me, true for everyone? I’d like to think so, but I do not want to wax preachy and I surely do not want to revert to circular reasoning to prove my point. For instance, I could say since “man is by nature superior” (Aristotle) therefore only men should be president. Well, I have assumed you already agreed with me and used that supposed agreement to bolster my opinion, even though you do not agree with me. We Christians use this a lot as we talk among ourselves. Anyway, the Bible, the Christian’s source of objective authority, mentions “one thing” in Psalm 27:4, Philippians 3:13 and Matthew 6:33. As Casey Stengel said, “You could look it up.” Focus on that one thing. As Proverbs 23:23 says, “Buy the truth and do not sell it.” Christian, never be afraid of the truth. Unbeliever, never be afraid of the truth. Said another way, “Know what you know, know what you don’t know and don’t mix up the two.” Tom Rupp can be reached at or