What do you value?


Yesterday, Parade Magazine published the annual feature on what Americans earn.  I always find it interesting to see what value is placed on the work of my fellow countrymen/women.  For example, Kylie Jenner, listed as “Reality TV star and Makeup Mogul”, earns an estimated $41 million dollars.  In contrast, Erin Davitt, a “Wildland Firefighter”, earns a mere $18,000.  Pro hockey player Jonathan Toews scores an estimated $16 million, while farmer Paul Ruter tills up a modest $30,594.

Yesterday was also the memorial service for Jennifer Riordan, who died mid-flight after an airplane engine exploded.  The Albuquerque Journal reports that nearly 2,000 people were in attendance.  The diverse crowd came together to celebrate her life and reflect on her personal philosophy, which was to be “kind, loving, caring and sharing.”

Earlier in the week,  I threw a fit in front of my daughter, after hearing about her excitement to see the latest video from a You Tube “star”, who earns millions of dollars producing videos of his life, pranks and occasional property destruction.  Advertisers pay him big bucks, hoping to get the attention of his subscribers, millions of whom flock to watch his idiocy (my description).

In contrast, I have been working my tail off to raise the annual budget of the non-profit I direct.  We are on track to do between $150-$160,000 this year, which is a marked increase over the year prior.  In all honesty, I get a little bitter when I think about the fact that the previously mentioned You Tube phenomenon could likely make our entire annual budget by broadcasting a well timed belch.

But bitterness doesn’t get the work done, and my frustration with the injustice of the world doesn’t help anyone. My desire to shout messages of common sense decency from the rooftop will likely only irritate my neighbors.  So, how do I make an impact (however small) in our culture?  I think the answer lies in the memorial service that took place for a woman just 3 years older than I am.

By all accounts, Jennifer Riordan lived her life passionately and purposefully, as a wife, mother, businesswoman, philanthropist and volunteer.  She was so active in the community, that the outpouring of shock and grief at her passing spread like wildfire, and touched every corner of our city.  She was a woman of great value, though You Tube will never take notice.

I too desire to live as genuinely.  Though our areas of passion may look slightly different, my heart’s cry is to be of value to my community, and to challenge my community to add value to this world.  Each life, lived with integrity and love, can make a marked impact.  Consider what transformation could take place if we each had 2,000 people who watched our lives and were so inspired by how we lived, that they wanted to follow suit!

In the end, I’d much rather have a huge turnout at my memorial service, than be known for my income or having achieved You Tube fame.  Let us strive to be a community of individuals who add genuine value to this world.  May we work hard and purposefully, demonstrating to our children and friends the importance of a life well lived.  However long (or short) our years may be, let’s choose to make each one count to the fullest.


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