Thought for the Week: Values and value

Jonathan Griffith considers values and value

During the period of December to February I gradually lost all functions in my right arm. This would be bad enough normally but, having cerebral palsy, that arm was essential for my independence. Now it just hangs lifeless or cradled in a sling. Consequently, my support arrangements needed a complete revision and I had to spend some weeks in a nursing home. It was a shock.

I was confronted with my place in the cycle of life – the ultimate recycling end. In a community of people, many my age, with a wide variety of functional failures, kept alive by a hive of activity, what did it mean to me? What does it mean to me? What is the value of my life, and of yours and theirs?

It is not a purely personal matter. Any meaning, any value, must include everyone. It has puzzled countless people. Quaker that I am, I must find my own answer!

Every fly or spider, be it eaten or just crushed, has a value, or so it seems to me; and that value has no time limit, tiny though it is. We have something much more.

Through infancy, childhood, youth, reproductive and caring years and on into old age, we build value in our relationships and ideas.

Positive values draw people closer. Negative ones repel. Just once I heard a staff member mock a resident. Otherwise, I saw and heard patient, often cheerful, service and, sometimes, moments of one-to-one closeness; moments of deep value. Visiting friends and family can play a special part.

One meal time a temporary resident, who tries to pay after each meal, was seated next to another one from a deprived part of town. The second tried repeatedly to pacify and comfort the distress of the first from within her own confusion.

Value has no limit or measure and as we recognise it in each other, so the natural recycling process, in any sense you like, when it happens, becomes a safe conclusion to each life.

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