question, that is, "Is spending the time to write an autobiographymorally justified or morally worthwhile?"
: I think a lot of people, when they write an autobiography,ask the question, "Did my life give me the opportunity to self-actualize? Did I have the opportunities to reach my full potential?"Well, the church might find that to be a rather selfish outlook.After all, among the duties of a human being is not self-actualization. One's duties are to God and to his fellow human beings, and also avoiding such evils as sloth, malice, indolentexcess, and so on.All that said, the church sees meditation as a way of communicating with God as well as reflecting on how well wehave performed our duties as human beings, in other words, a self-analysis in terms of virtue. An autobiography as opposed tomeditation could well be simply an act of vanity, recording one'saccomplishments in the form of a boast, or exonerating oneself for one's failings rather than accepting them. Yet, to the extent that a person fulfills his duties as a human, the church has no objection toa person spending time recording his life—provided theautobiography is used as a means of educating others or improvingoneself. When one improves oneself he is doing a social good, because he is then better able to help others.When we talk about charity in the contemporary world, we usuallythink about money, which is really too bad, because money doesn'treally have much value in terms of human life. It's not an end thatcan be justified. Recently the pope talked about the evil of excessive wealth and the duty of people to give away money rather than hoard it. Well there is also an analogy that can be made toknowledge. One can hoard knowledge, and it is our charitableduty as human beings to share our knowledge with others. We arenot required to beggar ourselves in spending a lot of time andenergy in acquiring knowledge, and then giving it away withoutenough compensation to support ourselves. But when we haveknowledge in excess of what is necessary to support ourselves, weare morally obligated to share it with others. How many giant players on the human stage have gone to the grave withoutrecording the lessons of their lives and the knowledge they hadacquired? Whole realms of human knowledge go to the graveevery year in that way, because people do not have the charity tocommunicate what they know so it can be transmitted to other humans. In that way, I see the autobiography as a vehicle for transmitting human knowledge, and so as a good thing, if usedselflessly, as a way of educating others about life.3