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  • Writer's pictureAliza Davidovit

The Measure of a Man

Who are you? Do you know? the fancy car you drive? Are you the wealth you amassed? Are you the title on your business card? Are you the designer clothes you wear? The answers may seem simple, but they are not. If one by one all your status symbols are taken away, when do you stop being you? “I can’t live without my Blackberry,” “I can’t live without my laptop,” “I can’t live without my I-Pod,” “I can’t live without my plasma TV,” are all sentences we’ve heard from those we know. Or, get into a conversation with a stranger and within five seconds they ask you what you do for a living. We have all Are youbecome so impressed by external trappings that we come to mistake those things for who we really are. By our affiliations, titles and possessions, we convince ourselves of our own greatness. But buried under all these materialistic decorations, titles and idol worship, do we really know who we are without them? Perhaps not! Statistics show that when the economic collapse hit in 2008 therapists couches, as well as the National Suicide Hotline, were busier than ever. The housing crisis hit, the Nasdaq plummeted; Maddoff scammed people out of billions, and landmark financial institutions disappeared or crashed. And so, at the end of 2008, without their jobs and materialistic securities which had come to define them for so long, many found themselves facing an identity crisis. The time had come to ask the hard question, “Who am I?” In this week’s Biblical reading, God tells the Patriarch Abraham “Lech Lecha” which translates as “Go to yourself.” The Almighty then gives him directions on how to get there: “Go FROM your country, your birthplace and your father’s home.” God’s roadmap to “self” seems odd. Aren’t the familiar backdrops such as country, birthplace, and home the very things that make up a person’s sense of self? Many of us in our own lives return to the place we grew up in order to get in touch with who we used to be. But God is telling Abraham the complete opposite here. If you want to “go to yourself” and to know who you really are, then you need to unbury yourself from all the fake things you’ve allowed to define you. Make no mistake, Abraham’s journey was not one to find God--he was already aware of God’s omnipresence. Abraham had to go find HIMSELF through the trials and tribulations of his journey on foreign terrain. He had to discover whether the pressures he encountered along the way would crush or corrupt him, or fortify him and show the measure of his moral mettle. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. Yes, the economic crisis may have taken away much of what we have, but don’t ever think for one instance that it took away who you are. In the final analysis, we are not what we “collect” in this lifetime but rather what we give away. Our good deeds, our kindness, our charity, our compassion, our integrity, are still the greatest currency we have, and they are “market proof.” A few days ago I asked my 2000 friends on Facebook if there is anything beneficial about what is currently going on in this country. My personal answer is, “In a way, yes!” For the first time in a very long time we are forced “to go to ourselves’ and rediscover what we stand for, who we are, and what we care about. In the age of plenty we were so busy giving Generation Next what we didn’t have growing up that we forgot to give them what we DID have: decency, appreciation, respect, a work ethic, patriotism and all the things that make a people and nation great, not on the surface but at the core. Don’t forget, the greatest people in history left us not golden treasures but pearls of wisdom and a legacy of love. Moses, Mother Theresa, Jesus, and Gandhi bequeathed humanity much more than bank accounts. The patriarch Abraham ended up being a very rich man, yet the trust fund for his descendants has long expired but not his moral compass or the light and compassion he introduced to the world. As Abraham went on his journey “unto himself,” he realized it wasn’t about him at all but rather about all the others we encounter along the way. In giving instead of taking, you discover the true meaning of what is valuable and come to evaluate your own worth in much more meaningful terms. My dear friends, I am not knocking ambition in life, but one’s title and net worth are not the true measure of a man. You have so much more to offer. If times are rough, do not be embarrassed or feel diminished. DO not be ashamed of your status in life, but rather, as Horace Mann once said, “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.” ***************************** This week's blog is dedicated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the global leader of the fight against breast cancer. Sponsored by Wordsmithy Editing Services


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