What Matters is Not Wealth – but How Well We Have Loved

by Rachel Baker on January 13, 2011

Normally, I don’t use a politician in the “think about it” category, mostly because one never knows what to expect the reaction will be.  However, there were some things President Obama said last night at the Together We Thrive memorial in Arizona that I think bear thinking about – not as a Democrat or a Republican, not as a Liberal or a Conservative, and not as anything in between or on the outer fringes. The ideas below are not political, or religious, or anything else that seems to get people riled up about.   These are ideas we should think about and employ in our every day lives … as members of the human race.  My hope is that if enough people stop to consider and employ these ideas in their daily individual lives, we’ll be a better people than we are right now.

Please read on (the italics are my own thoughts):

“Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let’s [use this occasion to] expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy and remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together.”

I added the brackets in this one.  I believe we should always try to do this, not just because of the Arizona shootings.

“After all, that’s what most of us do when we lose somebody in our family – especially if the loss is unexpected.  We’re shaken out of our routines.  We’re forced to look inward.  We reflect on the past:  Did we spend enough time with an aging parent, we wonder.  Did we express our gratitude for all the sacrifices that they made for us?  Did we tell a spouse just how desperately we loved them, not just once in a while but every single day?”

“We may ask ourselves if we’ve shown enough kindness and generosity and compassion to the people in our lives.”

Why wait until you lose a love one to ask these of yourself?  We should ask these questions of ourselves every single day; and if the answer is no, then we should do what it takes to make the answer yes. You know when you haven’t been generous  – and I’m talking about the kind of generosity that comes with no strings attached.  You know if you aren’t spending enough time with an aging parent.  You know if you’ve never ever thanked a parent for the sacrifices he/she makes for you; and you know how often you tell your spouse you love him/her – if you don’t tell someone (even when times get rough), they question whether you do or not.  PS.  If you like him/her, you should say that too.  Its important that people know you like them as well as love them.

“We recognize our own mortality, and we are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this Earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame – but rather, how well we have loved and what small part we have played in making the lives of other people better.”

“We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another, that’s entirely up to us.”

This is the big quoted one throughout the news this morning.  I really like this idea the best – because its so incredibly true – and yet its something I think we don’t ponder enough.

“And I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.”

These have been clipped from the Transcripts of the speech last night.  The whole speech can be found here.

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