Travelling abroad, one occasionally comes across signs that the host country courteously translated from the native language into English. Sometimes the translation works; sometimes it doesn’t. Someone visiting Paris boarded the elevator in a hotel and found posted there: “Please leave your values at the front desk.” While that elicits smiles from those whose first language is English, the message is unintentionally backwards from what should happen in life.
One’s values should never be checked at the front desk . . . or anywhere else. Values are foundational principles upon which a person’s life is formed and guided. The range of human experiences can at times impinge on values – for example, war – but one’s ideals and standards are the bedrock upon which one thinks and acts.
Of course, the first task it to consciously identify the values which one personally embraces. The rest of life is both refining one’s understanding of such and applying them to life as consistently as possible.
If a core value is a commitment to kindness and courtesy – and if one desires to be treated such by others – then it is a betrayal of that principle to act discourteously and ungraciously toward others. Suppose one believes in the worth and dignity of every human being and desires that all others look upon oneself that way. Then to consider and treat any other person as a lesser human being undeserving of the same respectability and status claimed for oneself, is to check that supposed value at the front desk.
Task number one: reflect on what one’s core values truly are. Task number two: take those values with you into everyday life. Number two takes a lifetime of hard work, but the key is to keep working.