Teaching values over value

Josh Lockhart

It's been sometime after Hurricane Sandy. This hurricane did an estimated $50 billion worth of damage to the United States, making it the second costliest hurricane in the history of the United States. However, it was not deadliest. It is unfortunate that we measure the "cost" of a hurricane by the damage it causes to human made structures, not the loss of human life. What has been under reported about Hurricane Sandy is that approximately the same amount of lives that were lost in the United States, were also lost in the Caribbean days before the storm even hit the East Coast. Why is that?

We, in the western world, live in a society that is consumed by a dollar sign. We don't seem to know how to measure costs without a financial value. We live in a world where everything seems to be available for purchase (see Ms. Migliorini who sold her virginity for $780,000). The prevailing thought is money buys happiness. But we have seen study after study, documentary after documentary that money does not buy happiness. Some of the most unhappy people are those who win the lottery. The happiest people live in developing countries, in lower financial conditions than the poorest on our continent.

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A line from one of my favourite movies says "what we hold sacred in this country [the United States] isn't values. It's value that's important."

We live in the time of instant gratification or as I like to call it: the microwave popcorn generation. Food is available in less than five minutes, credit is available almost instantaneously, sexual satisfaction can be found with a couple clicks, along with many other rapid services.

In all of this do we see patience practiced anymore? Are there any virtues left? Do we even teach them?

We have discarded human connection. Real and lasting value is found in human connections. Holding a newborn baby is one of the most precious moments in life. Being surrounded by those you love during a time of need, is invaluable. Passing away beside those you love and leaving your legacy behind for them is priceless. Nelson Mandella once said, "what counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead."

If we start instilling values in our children and ourselves, we have to appreciate human life more, and understand everyone's individual value.

So while I do mourn the losses that people experienced during Hurricane Sandy, especially if they lost a loved one, broken electronics, cars, and other human made items can be replaced, whereas a lost life cannot.

Let us begin to cherish human life, and not goods.

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