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Story Archives

Values

John Donohue

By John Donohue

I recently saw a sticker on the frame of a subway exit gate. It was in big black letters against a white background: “Amplify Love/ Dissipate Hate,” it said.

Someone had stuck it at eye level. I figured it might have been better placed on an entry turnstile, to prepare commuters for the shoving, hustling, and petty inconveniences of a ride below ground. 

What I liked best about the sticker wasn’t stated explicitly—that we have a choice in how we act towards people. That may seem obvious, but it's anything but. Those choices are at the heart of what we think of as our values.

A friend’s aged and well-off mother-in-law still hates the man who lost $50,000 dollars of her husband’s investment forty years ago. She’s a devout Christian, and though a minister told her that forgiving the man would free her, she holds onto her bitterness and bile. I say that’s fine for her, because she clearly enjoys it. I choose to allow her that imperfection. 

As for me, I’m going to make a different choice about those who have wronged me. I'm not going to push back at them. I'm not going to judge them. I'm just going to leave them hanging in full view, like a sticker on a wall. Sometimes being seen for what you are is enough.

 

Where did you get your core values?

Do you think others should share your values?

 

John Donohue is a writer and editor in New York. He created the bestselling anthology Man With a Pan.