Stability and value

The really valuable things in our lives, such as friendship, love, and integrity of character, cannot be bought. And while that may be a platitude, it's worth reflecting on why it should be so. That they cannot be bought means that you can't get them in exchange for something else, like money, favorable behavior to someone, or pleasure; there cannot be such a deal, because the latter things are not equivalent, they're not nearly as valuable. And why are they? Perhaps because they can expire, or be taken away from you; they will get stale, and at any time, they are at some risk. (They can also expose you to risk, by awakening envy and hatred in others who lust after them.) And look at it the other way round: you wouldn't sell anything that has true value for something like money or fame. (Would you give away the lives or the happiness of your children for wealth or celebrity?)

Some things you can only achieve yourself. That's why they are so valuable: once you have achieved them, you know exactly what you have in them, they don't depend on anything, or anyone, but yourself. And again, these cannot be compared to (or exchanged with) other, external goods, precisely because they don't have that kind of value: they're transient, unreliable, and at risk.

You can delegate tasks that are expected of you; you can hire people who can do things you can't (sing at your parties, sort out your tax paperwork, find you a nice apartment, ...); you can buy many pleasures. But you can't delegate forming your character; you can't hire someone to make sense of your life for you (or perhaps you can, but then how would you know it is really for your own good, and not his?); you can't buy the joy that comes only from acting well — and knowing, feeling that you do so. Take care.
Copyright © 2007-2012 by Leif Frenzel. All rights reserved.