The Value Of Our Ability

In the midst of solving the world’s problems today with a friend,  I came across a thought or two that I am pretty certain will help in the pursuit of restoring common sense.

First I want to say that I believe our world, our community, has a  responsibility to those who need help.

My thoughts are in reference to something else all together different than those in need.

Years ago I read a story.  A short synopsis:  a child was born with severe physical disabilities.  A boy baby.  A boy baby that had numerous brothers.  The brothers were all raised to take care of and help provide for their brother who could literally do nothing for himself.  The boy baby grew in to young adulthood.  Dependent on his brother’s and parent’s care.  He had value.   He had purpose in life.   His value was what he taught his brothers in their responsibilities of  providing his care.  They, in turn, received from him what he provided.  They grew up depending on his smile.  They depended on him needing them.  They had value to him because of the care they provided and the lessons they learned about themselves in caring for him.  He had value to them because of the lessons his needs taught them, and the responses they received from him when they cared for him.

Their brother had value.  And his family recognized his value and depended on it.  And they expected it of him.  They expected the smiles and responses when they interacted with him.  And brother expected and valued what his siblings did for him.

Expectations.  Value.  Purpose.

Every person has them.

Or should.

As a world, as a country, as a family unit I feel we have done things that have changed the way our world functions.  Our very essence and blueprint is being changed.

There is a shift.

And it’s not good.

We are taking away expectation.  We are taking away the value we each bring in to this world.  We are taking away personal potential and responsibility.   By not expecting everyone to do what it is they are capable of.

Why shouldn’t we expect each of us to live up to our potential?

Why would we want to lower our expectations?

Why would we want to remove personal responsibility?

Why would we not want to do what we are capable of doing?

There is absolutely nothing wrong at all with needing and asking for help.  And we should help.

But there is something wrong when we do not have expectations.  If you are capable of thinking then you need to think for yourself.  If you are capable of learning than you should learn.  If you are capable of doing than you should do.

With the responsibility of fulfilling your potential and meeting your expectations comes great reward and great freedom.

If your purpose in life is to be born without physical abilities and teach me what it means to do for others by doing for you,  than you must fulfill your purpose.  And I must fulfill mine by providing for you and learning from you what it is to be both dependent and independent.  I must learn from you gratitude and humility.  I must learn from you what it is you are here to teach me.

We are all born with a purpose.

What ever your purpose is here in this world you must fulfill it.  It is expected of you.  When you fulfill your purpose and meet or exceed all expectations you earn what it is you are to have in this life.

Do not ask me to give you what you have not earned.

And do not expect me to stop striving for my personal purpose.

If you don’t know your purpose than part of your expectations is to keep going, doing and learning until you discover it.  I don’t always know my purpose.  But I’m always on the look out for it, I’m doing everything I can to discover it.  Maybe my purpose is to be a seeker?

In my ever simple way of thinking it seems so simple to me.  We do not expect individuals to have personal responsibility any more.   We do not expect individuals to do what it is they are capable of doing any more.

Every person has value.   Why would they want to diminish their personal value by not doing what it is they are capable of doing.   Why would anyone who is able want to give up their personal ability.   And people do, give up their personal ability and value, every day.   By simply not doing.

As a family, as a community, as a country, we accept it.

We are losing the value of our own ability.

We should all individually do what we can.    And serve our purpose.

We should expect that of one another.

We used to.

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46 thoughts on “The Value Of Our Ability

  1. You said this very well Colleen! I agree, we should strive each day to fulfill our purpose. No matter how insignificant my purpose may be to me, it is significant to someone else.


  2. ksbeth says:

    we need to get back to that )


  3. CMSmith says:

    The beginning of this sounds like a summary of my book, Dancing in Heaven. Kudos to you for pointing it out to us. The only possible pitfall, I think, is in trying to make a judgement about what others are capable of doing. In the case of mental illness, that is tricky territory. I have made that mistake in my life, of expecting more from someone because by all outward appearances they look like they should be able to manage. Not also so. There have been times in my own life, the most recent being when I lost both of my parents within 2 weeks and was suffering from intense grief, where I became pretty dependent on others to help me through. By all outward appearances, and from my previous track record, one might not have expected that kind of need from me. We don’t always know what history and burdens others carry.


    • Hi Christine, I have not yet read your book. Sounds like something I may be interested in. Is it available? And interestingly enough, how we can come up with points to ponder from two different scenarios. My point of reference came from what I see in my every day work life, and from talking with my husband. We discuss frequently how we no longer have expectations of students, adults, etc. This post was actually a repost of something I wrote years ago after having this discussion on the way we sometimes allow or create excuses for ‘ourselves’ when things get hard. We don’t push ourselves, or have expectations of others. It’s really much longer than I can go in to in a comment. But I’ll post this to the comment on the blog as well. This was not so much about assuming what others are capable of, but ourselves. And as individuals why would we want to give up our potential and ability. The story about the young boy and his brothers was used to show that there is a purpose for everyone, a potential, an ability. And from there, what would we become if we don’t pursue those possibilities. Thank you for sharing your story. And please post a link to your stories if you feel it appropriate.


  4. Colleen, I don’t know if this is quite what you’re getting at, but I feel like very akin to this is the whole taking away of competition in sports and schools and just trying to make things equal. It’s all kind of contributing to the dumbing down of America and, as a mother of young children I feel it more and more every day and it’s just outrageous.


    • I think what you say is relatable. Part of this post (from over 3 years ago) came from discussion with my husband who was a teacher. Students had no consequences for their behaviors and/or refusal to do work. Staff were more blamed for students not succeeding than the students who were given excuses for not doing the work. If we didn’t work in school, we failed, and WE were held accountable. And what happened? We responded to that!!!! We learned responsibility. I think that’s the same with competition. What is wrong with learning about competition? There are as many lessons to be found in losing, good sportmanship and perseverance as there is in winning, good sportsmanship and dedication.

      We need to get our common sense back Marissa. And basics.


  5. Our world has changed to such a fast pace, it has become a ‘me’ world, the heck with the neighbor, or “I don’t have time, let someone else help him.”
    A well thought out post, Colleen, and so timely. ❤ ❤


  6. mewhoami says:

    Yes, yes and yes!! You are 100% correct. I constantly wonder this same thing. To me, doing was never an option. It was simply what people did and what they *wanted* to do. I was raised to be productive, to be independent, to be successful. I was *not* raised to rely on others to do the doing for me. Why don’t people seek out self-accomplishments anymore? Isn’t that a large part of what makes living so excited and rewarding? Where’s the reward in doing nothing? I don’t understand. It’s a sad state that this world has found itself in.


  7. […] is one of my favorite bloggers these days. Seriously. And her post today is so thought-provoking. The Value of Our Ability. If you typically check out mentally on Friday afternoons, save the link, but make sure you read […]

    Liked by 1 person

  8. niaaeryn says:

    Well said and written. Indeed we forget responsibility to our selves a great deal and then it dominoes into other areas of life such as family and community. Also a good reminder as to what I need to be doing.
    And as to what you may be? Seeker seems apt, and if I may in a way a teacher? Just a thought. 🙂


  9. I agree so much Colleen. Today the world seems more egoistic than ever. Many are only thinking at themselves and I think, that they haven’t learned about personal responsibility from their families, which is very sad.


  10. Debra says:

    I don’t disagree with you at all, Colleen. It takes a very deliberate goal to remain connected to others and to remember that sometimes needing one another also requires sacrificing some of that independence we seem to hold so dear! I think those of us who see the potential in others need to continue to be cheerleading encouragement. I know you are a major encourager, Colleen.


    • Thank you Debra. And it really is a two way street. Providing for someone else is doing something for ourselves as well. Even if we don’t recognize it in the moment.

      And without that connection you wisely point out, where would be ?


  11. reocochran says:

    My ex in law’s used wedding money they called it to have a great bash for their special needs adult only daughter when she turned 30. She had a pretty dress, a bouquet (I gave her one at my wedding at age 22 to her 26 year old self.) There was a band and no dry eyes when she got up to the band and quietly waited for them to stop at end of one of her “Favorite Songs.” They asked her, “Do you have a request?” She replied, “I need my Daddy to dance the next song with me.” It was “Our Song” (I think where Elton John is up on roof in his song thinking if the one he loves eyes are of green or blue?) Not a dry eye in the gathering. She worked at the workshop affiliated with Proctor and Gamble in Cincinnati, Colleen.
    She had real value plus a flair for embracing people snd life. When we got divorced she would send messages to me through my two children over holidays. They were her niece and nephew and she always said “Tell your Mommy I miss and love her!” I would make sure my kids sent her cards, over the years.


    • It seems her value in your life continues on. Her purpose seems quite obvious. Sadly, so many of ‘us’ don’t recognize our own purpose, or others, and don’t look either.

      Then there are those with such clear vision and sacred hearts that they see it and know it with every person they meet.

      Lessons all around us Robin.


  12. Oh Dear Colleen, if only you were with me when I had a similar discussion yesterday with my friend after our weekly run . We ruminate and talk about the world ourselves, constantly striving to solve its problems. We recognize that purpose, expectation and hard work must come from us. We are always models for our children. We, and only we are accountable for our actions. In our case the discussion was pertaining to our children. To teach them to be purposeful, to strive, to reach and then pay it forward. We watch teens and pre-teens at coffee places, and at our children’s middle school as they harass the teachers, as they pay no attention, as they blatantly disrespect even when the expectation is that you are at school to learn, to educate yourself, to accept responsibility for yourself, for your work and to not make excuses when you do not get your work done.

    When you do your job, you smile, you do what is expected of you and do it well. You aren’t rude, or throw money across a counter at the customer. We in turn say thank you! teach our children to say thank you, may I and please.
    Pfffft do not get me started on accountability. There is none. Children complain about teachers, there is no culpability. Parents have no expectations of their children and blame teachers too. Really? It begins at home. The respect, the hard work. Not entitlement. Not material gains.
    We worked hard, we had respect and we were always held accountable. Oh and we competed too. It was okay.


  13. Paul says:

    Love, love love the beauty of your words here Colleen – like a parched man who has wandered in the desert for years, I stand in awe under the waterfall of your oratory, soaking up meaning and truth.

    That said, walk softly. As a species we kill those who bring us the Truth (that’s perhaps an extreme here but in that direction) – like Jesus, Gandhi, JFK, Martin Luther King, Socrates, ad infinitum. The beauty of what you are saying was also pointed out by Socrates in Plato’s Republic – in The Cave scenario. I really think this issue you have identified is one that has been with humanity for eternity. There comes a point in some people’s lives when the light suddenly comes on and they can see clearly – obviously you’ve reached that point.

    Excellent post Colleen – a true pleasure to have been able to read it. Thank You.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Paul. VERY much. I hope my thoughts are ‘die worthy’.

      I’ve had these thoughts for some time. Every time I see someone else blamed for another person’s unwillingness to own up to their life abilities.

      So now I’m kind of Socrates ish ? 🙂


      • Paul says:

        Ha! For sure – just stay away from Hemlock – Ha! Socrates basically believed that we needed to be dragged out into the light to see things as they really are rather than the shadows that we perceive to be reality. Is that not what you try to do Colleen – banish the shadows? 😀


        • Well now this could be a very trick answer on my part. I do believe that most often just putting something out there, understanding it/learning it, sure makes things a lot ‘easier’ to deal with. And yet I recognize that the shadows often make life much more comfortable for some. For different reasons of course, some underhanded, some for self protection.

          But…..aside from that. I am using the “Shadow” concept for a project I’m working on. Where because of the ‘shadows’ (ie read “imagination”, “creativity”, “escape”, etc) people may live fuller and happier lives by tapping in to that. This would make more sense if you saw my project. But it’s top secret! 😉


  14. markbialczak says:

    This is so well said, MBC. Accept responsibility and shoulder a share, everybody.


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