That Which We Obtain Too Easily Essay

Our essay topics have been closely modeled on those in the SAT. You can also do the essays given in the first section of each of the tests in the Official Study Guide.

Each of the topics consists of a prompt and an assignment.

  • Prompt:
    "That which we obtain too easily, we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only which gives everything its value."
    Thomas Paine

    Assignment:
    Do we value only what we struggle for? Plan your response, and then write an essay to explain your views on this issue. Be sure to support your position with specific points and examples. (You may use personal examples or examples from your reading, observations, or, knowledge of subjects such as history, literature, science.)

  • Prompt:
    If we are afraid to reveal our lack of knowledge we will not be able to learn. In order to make progress we must admit where we are now. Such an admission of ignorance is not easy. As Thoreau says, “How can we remember our ignorance which our growth requires, when we are using our knowledge all the time?”

    Assignment:
    Does the present system of education encourage us to admit our lack of knowledge, or is there too much pressure to demonstrate the acquisition of knowledge? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  • Prompt:
    “A little inaccuracy saves a world of explanation.”
    C.E.Ayers

    Assignment:
    Is it always essential to tell the truth, or are there circumstances in which it is better to lie? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  • Prompt:
    Many societies believe that the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human right. But it is also true that attainment of happiness remains elusive. Perhaps Bertrand Russell had it right when he said, “To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.”

    Assignment:
    What gives us more pleasure and satisfaction: the pursuit of our desires or the attainment of them? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  • Prompt:
    “The price of greatness is responsibility.”
    Winston Churchill

    Assignment:
    Do we expect too much from our public figures? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  • Prompt:
    “A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.”
    Alexander Pope

    Assignment:
    Do we learn more from finding out that we have made mistakes or from our successful actions? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  • Prompt:
    “What man calls civilization always results in deserts. Man is never on the square – he uses up the fat and greenery of the earth. Each generation wastes a little more of the future with greed and lust for riches.”
    Don Marquis

    Assignment:
    With our modern awareness of ecology are we likely to make sufficient progress in conservation, or are we still in danger of damaging the earth beyond repair? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  • Prompt:
    A man who waits to believe in action before acting is anything you like, but he is not a man of action. It is as if a tennis player before returning the ball stopped to think about his views of the physical and mental advantages of tennis. You must act as you breathe.
    Georges Clemenceau

    Assignment:
    Is it true that acting quickly and instinctively is the best response to a crisis? Or are there times when an urgent situation requires a more careful consideration and a slower response? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  • Prompt:
    There is usually a kernel of truth in the words Oscar Wilde puts in the mouth of his most outrageous characters – they wouldn’t be funny otherwise. One such gem that is worth pondering is: The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.

    Assignment:
    Is it true that when we most need advice we are least willing to listen to it? Or is good advice always welcome? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  • Prompt:
    “Independence? That’s middle class blasphemy. We are all dependent on one another, every soul of us on earth.” Bernard Shaw expected to provoke controversy with these words, but I would agree with him that these days there is too much emphasis on independence. While it is certainly true that excessive dependence on others is not a sign of maturity, total independence of others is neither attainable nor desirable: we need to be mature, and unselfish enough to recognize our interdependence.

    Assignment:
    Do we put too much emphasis on self-reliance and independence, and are we afraid of admitting that we need other people in our lives? Plan your response, and then write an essay...

  • An obnoxious dictator gains control over an entire nation and millions of people suffer because of his abuse of power. Somewhere, a doctor says to the patient he has bad news. Somewhere, a smart student cannot continue her education because she comes from an extremely poor family. Why do these things happen? Is there justice in this world? Do we all have to struggle at some point of our lives? It seems like we do. When people find themselves in an extremely comfortable situation with no struggles on their way, they lose interest in living.

    The laws of Nature imposed mental, physical, and even spiritual suffering as bridge to our enlightenment. When people achieve a high level of awareness, they understand that not everything is as good or as bad as we think it is. Comfort may negatively affect our mental, physical, and spiritual capacity, whereas pain and suffering can change us in a positive way.

    Constant comfort makes people numb. Some people are rich, healthy, smart, and popular. It seems like they have everything a person could ask for. Boredom is their struggle. Some parents do everything to make the lives of their children as easy as possible. They help them with homework, they defend them when someone points out their mistakes, and they buy them everything they wish for. I’ve had plenty of such friends while I was a kid.

    They grew up into unstable individuals who are ready to give up whenever they face an obstacle. They have their own struggles, too. I, on the other hand, grew up in a middle-class family, with parents who disciplined me more than necessary. The always wanted me to be the best in class, and they kept comparing my achievements to everyone else’s. I don’t think I lived through a childhood like every kid should experience. I was angry and I blamed my parents for not giving me the comfort I thought I deserved.

    With time, I realized that comfort was more of an obstacle than an advantage. It doesn’t inspire people to take risks, learn new skills, and find the true meaning of life. Life has a way of shocking us, because struggles make us change. When we obtain material, professional, and academic success too easily, we don’t value the status we have achieved. Two years ago, I got a phone as a prize on a competition. It was the latest model, which was priced over $400 at that time.

    I understood it was valuable, but I didn’t appreciate it as much as the old phone, which I purchased myself. I worked part-time for months to save for that gadget, and it was more valuable to me than any other fancy smartphone. It took some struggling for me to achieve a goal I was aiming for, but the personal satisfaction I earned was more valuable than any prize I would’ve taken for granted.

    Very often, people who are suffering from severe illness say that the suffering purified them and helped them shed off all false masks they wore for the sake of their social status. Pain has a healing gift, even if the disease is terminal. Spiritually mature people understand suffering as a stepping stone that helps them achieve higher states of their personal growth. Nick Vujicic has been through struggles most of us cannot even imagine.

    Still, he has the strength to motivate, support, and comfort millions of people. As controversial as it seems, his disorder became a blessing. Vujicic spreads an important message: regardless of the circumstances we are facing, it’s always possible to overcome the obstacles and even turn them into opportunities.

    Thomas Paine was a revolutionary political activist, who understood that nothing can be perfect in society and people’s individual lives. He also said that dearness was what gave everything its value, and I can only agree with that. Unconditional love leads people to liberation from all struggles, because then we understand that no obstacle is so great to disturb the inner balance we’ve achieved. Dearness and love cannot exist without free will.

    Free will is a blessing, but also a struggle, because it leads people to the ability to make bad choices, and bad choices make us suffer. No matter how much we try to understand pain and suffering, there is a great mystery behind the fact that we have to experience some discomfort in order to find true happiness. When our eyes are cleansed with tears, then we can “see” everything more clearly, and start valuing each moment of our lives.

    Read new assignment prompt“Is it possible to maintain conflicting loyalties?” – by Eric Felten

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