Friday, December 16, 2016

What Impresses You?

     I was brought up by a WWII vet and products of the Great Depression. Our values were written in stone and never questioned. We were taught humility, kindness, doing “the right thing,” respect, decorum, manners. Growing up under my father’s roof, you never dared questioned his opinions or authority. My father failed chemistry in his effort to get into Med School, so he dropped out of college and went into business. He never got over his embarrassment at not having a college degree. My mother was never groomed for the academic life, although she claimed she was a “straight A” student in high school. As a result of their backgrounds, they were always impressed with title, status, people with “money,” and what level degree you earned. As a product of this pair, I grew up revering rich people, people with advanced degrees and titles (doctor, lawyer, CEO). It took me years to overcome the notion that the amount of money you have or the degree you’ve earned doesn't make you better than me, smarter than me or kinder than me. I do respect those who have worked hard to earn what they have, but I’ve learned that just having letters behind your name doesn’t make you infallible or better than.

    The fact that people are still posting the above tells me that I am not the only one who needs to remember this; the myth is still out there. 

     What impressed my father doesn’t impress me anymore. Unlike my father, I care less about your salary than how you treat your family. Unlike my father, I care less about your title than how you treat your fellow man. I care less about your degree than how humble you are. 

     When we attend funerals, peoples’ tears are not for what the person has accomplished, but for how he or she left the world. How will I leave the world? How will you? Are we modeling the kind of person who will make our world better? I don’t know about you, but I’m not getting an A+ in this category. Sometimes, I’m selfish. Sometimes, my ego gets in the way. Sometimes, I wish I had a nicer house or a cooler car. Sometimes, I’m sorry I don’t have the energy to go for that PhD no matter how old I am. But when I see someone at a grocery store reach for something a woman can’t, help empty a cart for someone hurting, pay for a cup of coffee for a stranger, I know that the modeling I need to be doing has nothing to do with homework or 401Ks.