Wednesday, July 15, 2009

41) Values

"Try not to become a person of success, but a person of value." Albert Einstein

A person of success has much to count (money and possessions)and much to show(fame).
Albert Einstein thinks that there is a better option - become a person of value, when there will be little to count and show, but much of value in a loftier life. Charles Garfield plays with words, but gets the point home, when he writes: "Not everything that counts, can be counted. Not everything that can be counted, counts". Values always count, though they do not display numbers. To children, parents who live value-based lives are a shining example. For such parents, traditional values rooted in truth, trust and love are still keys to successful parenting.

Perceptions play an important role in the formation of values. Consider honesty. One man will not accept a bribe because he believes it is wrong. Another thinks he will be the odd one out if he refuses a bribe, because everybody is accepting bribes. His conscience is silenced with the numbers performing the act; the majority. The tragedy today is that we have lost our sense of wrong doing; our sense of sin; and therefore our values are warped. Because peer pressure will force our children to think differently and make compromises, we have to work harder to keep them on course, instilling in them some of the values listed below.


"In a matter of principle, stand like a rock." Thomas Jefferson

A band of fierce men stormed a Chapel, somewhere in Columbia, just as Mass was to begin, and dragged the priest out. Then the Chief of the band questioned: "Is there any other Christian here?" A few stood up. They were also dragged out. In seconds gunfire was heard outside the Chapel. Returning, the Chief asked for the second time,
if there were any more Christians in the Chapel. In fear not one stood up. Angry and visibly disgusted, the Chief berated them: "If you cannot stand up for your beliefs, you have no right to be here". In moments he and his men disappeared. Coming out of the Chapel, the people saw the Priest and the others who were dragged out unharmed and smiling.

If we were in Chapel that day, what would we have done? Are we always zealous in defending our beliefs? Would our children stand up for what they believe? E.g.,would
they return to the owner a lost wallet, with a large sum of money in it? Would they support someone who is falsely accused? Would they expose foul play? Our children will find the courage to stand up, when they learn from us to stand up. When Conviction leads the way, Courage is close behind. We only hope that they will not choose to be neutral; because, being neutral where there is injustice, is choosing the wrong side. It is important that others know what we and our children stand up for; it is equally important that they know what we do not stand up for.


"No legacy is so rich as honesty." William Shakespeare

Roger Young was a janitor in Charleston, West Virginia, USA. One day he found an envelope on the shelf in a phone booth. At once he returned it to the owner, not knowing that it held $1000. When he learned of the money in the envelope, he said:
"I don't care if was one dollar or one million dollars. I wouldn't keep it". The children of Roger Young had every reason to celebrate their father, who belonged to a tribe of honest men which Alexander Pope likened to the 'noblest work of God'.

People mistakenly associate honesty only with being clean in matters of money. There is dishonesty in effort, when we do not labor enough for the wages we get. There is dishonesty in squandering company time on personal tasks. There is dishonesty in the denial and defense of wrong doing; in lying. When our children do not use their talents to live up to their potential, they are dishonest with themselves and God, the giver of those gifts. Dishonesty tries to get a toe-hold in their lives, when our children begin to lie over trifles. Alarm bells should ring. The idea of restitution seems old fashioned. Who does it now? But if our children are to understand the implications of honesty, they should know what restitution means. If we are responsible for loss to someone through willful wrong doing, honesty demands that we make good the loss. Such truths should be dinned into our children until they acknowledge that honesty is not just the best policy, but the only policy.


"Humility is not denying the power you have. It is realizing that the power comes through you, not from you." Fred Smith

The Devil disguised himself as an angel and appeared to a holy man, saying that God had commissioned him to deliver a message to His holy servant, who seemed surprised and replied that the angel(devil)had the wrong address, because he had not done anything to deserve a visit by God's messenger. On getting this response the devil disappeared because he could not challenge a truly humble and holy man who recognized his limitations and God's limitless generosity.

F.B.Meyer fittingly describes the receiving of such gifts from God: "I used to think that God's gifts were on shelves, one above the other; and that the taller we grew in character, the easier it would be to reach them. I now find that God's gifts are on shelves one beneath the other; and that we have to go down, always down, to get His best gifts". The same lesson comes to us from the encounter of two farmers. A haughty farmer asked an old farmer: "Why don't you hold your head high, the way I do? I bow before neither God nor man". The old man replied: "Look at that field of grain. Only the empty heads stand up. Those that are full bend low". The lesson is that the humble person does not take offense or fight back. He is willing to take a lower place, keep quiet over his merits, bear insults and false accusations, for a higher purpose, in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. He knows that men around him cannot put him down, without his consent. Only his misdeeds can put him down.

When our children understand the values of honesty and humility, they will know that the qualities are knit closely. One cannot be separated from the other.

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