Sunday’s Wisdom #124: Potential Value

“Why are you really with him?”

“Somehow I sense he has potential.”

“Really? I sense he’s mostly full of shit.”

“But rich manure can fertilize fields which will feed millions.”

– Jade & the Nameless Monk, Bulletproof Monk

I love quotes that are both humorous and make a point. 🙂

Apologies to anyone with delicate language sensibilities – not that the S word is a swear word in most cultures… I mean, we do say “crap” all the time, here – but I thought the effect might be diminished slightly if I censored it. 😉

Jade and the Monk are discussing the character of Kar, a shameless, smart-mouthed pickpocket with something of an attitude problem. He’s also charming, quick-thinking, clever, hard-working (at times), generally reliable, brave, and he doesn’t think twice about sharing a little with the bum everyone else walks past. So, yeah, he’s not a straight arrow, but he’s not so bad. He is full of it, but, when you think about it, even that can prove a great benefit to humanity.

Often, people may look at us, or we may look at them, or we may look at ourselves, and say, “That person doesn’t have much to offer. They won’t amount to much. They don’t matter.” But wise men know that this is false. Not only does it only see a part of a person, but it only sees what they are, not what they can become. Potential, by very definition, refers to the latter.

Even more, the casual dismissal of a person’s potential presumes that there is little value in a quiet, humble life. If people aren’t big names, aren’t rich, aren’t famous, they are regarded as somehow being less successful, and less important, than those who are. That couldn’t be any further from the truth. A priceless diamond may be more sought after than manure, but the former is worthless without food, which the later helps to provide, so which one is really more valuable?

It is worth noting, though, that Jade’s criticism of Kar isn’t meant with any malice. She’s mostly commenting on his ego and attitude, which, as it happens, she’s also a bit attracted by. She can see his flaws, but that doesn’t mean she has no feeling for him. In similar fashion, just because one might see our flaws, and occasionally deflate our ego, that does not mean that is all they see in us. Indeed, diamonds are universally more valued when they are natural instead of artificial, a trait which is known only by the flaws found within.

Either way, though, whether we are diamonds or dung, our potential, and our value, should never be in dispute.

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