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McKay Coppins: Cain and I

Lately, I feel like every day, somebody is presenting me with an opportunity to attain world domination.

But of course, such is the life of a motivated college student.


well-established adults seem to gravitate toward certain people, citing an abstract, overvalued quality they call \"potential.\" They're always

setting up the interview, getting your foot in the door or recommending

you for the competitive internship.


who have helped me seem motivated by genuine good will; others are

perhaps compelled by an unsaid desire to vicariously attain the goals

and dreams of their youth. But whatever the impetus, being an ambitious

twentysomething can open a lot of doors — especially in the LDS world.


lest you think I'm ungrateful, I'll say right now that I am enormously

appreciative of all the offers and opportunities I've received. I owe

any success I have obtained thus far in my life to the kindhearted

individuals who have, for whatever reason, given me my \"big breaks.\"


in the midst of making the phone calls, writing the cover letters and

calling in the favors, I've found myself lately pausing to ask the

tough questions.


example, what IS my ultimate goal? What would satisfy this insatiable

desire for success? I jokingly referred to world domination above, but

was it really a joke?


guess I've always subconsciously thought that once I achieved a certain

status, rank or tax bracket, I would be done with my career and able to

retire in peace. But with every miniature goal I achieve along the way,

I find myself wanting more. Who's to say it will stop when I'm a

millionaire or a world-renowned author?


course, I know what the answer is supposed to be. \"Seek ye first the

kingdom of God,\" right? But a literal approach to that verse would

likely result in a full-time, lifelong proselyting mission devoid of any

sort of secular career that could prove as a distraction from



honestly, if that were an option I would probably take it. I would

avoid the inner-conflict and dive headfirst into what I know brings

eternal happiness, without a thought to the world of secular success

and accomplishment.

Unfortunately, that's not allowed.

No, God wants us to be \"in the world, but not of the world,\" and that's where I usually arrive at the toughest question of all: How long can I really hang around in the world until I am seduced by its ideas of value and end up betraying myself?


course, justifications abound, especially at BYU. \"The church needs

money,\" they say. \"And the richest members of the church are the ones

who build temples with their tithing.\"


such rationale doesn't offer much solace — at least not to people like

me. There are, undoubtedly, Saints stronger than I who have learned to

achieve their worldly ambitions without losing sight of their

priorities. I just worry that I won't ever become one of them.


a Hugh Nibley talk I've mentioned before in this column, Nibley quotes a young business

student who was charged with the assignment of writing a paper

comparing himself to a scriptural character. He chose Cain.


was after personal gain. He knew the impact of his decision to kill

Abel. Now, I do not ignore God and make murderous pacts with Satan;

however, I desire to get gain. Unfortunately, my desire to succeed in

business is not necessarily to help the Lord's kingdom grow ...

\"As a

business major, I wonder about the ethics of business — 'charge as much

as possible for a product which was made by someone else who was paid

as little as possible.' You live on the difference. As a businessman

will I be living on someone else's industry and not my own? Will I be

contributing to society or will I receive something for nothing, as did

Cain? While being honest, these are difficult questions for me.\"

Indeed, they are difficult questions for me as well.