You asked: …how much I am worth?

Kalyan Banerjee President, Rotary International

In 1885, the London Times ran a series of editorials honouring the 100th birthday of Sir Moses Montefiore, the British financier and philanthropist knighted by Queen Victoria. The editorials commented on his honesty, his generosity, and his willingness to come to the aid of anyone in need. One story was particularly telling.

Someone once asked Sir Moses, one of the wealthiest men of his era, how much he was worth. In the face of such an ill-mannered inquiry, he merely paused for a moment’s reflection before naming a figure – one that fell far short of his questioner’s expectations. Naturally, it was met with an objection; surely he must be worth 10 times as much! Sir Moses merely smiled. “Young man,” he replied, “you didn’t ask me how much I own. You asked me how much I am worth. So I calculated how much I have given to charity this year, and that is the number I gave you. You see, in life we are worth only what we are willing to share with others.”

When we calculate our own worth, do we think about it in terms of what we have, or how we use it? When we say that all human beings are of equal worth, do our actions follow our words?

I believe that being a Rotarian means looking at all of our resources differently. What is the most good that we could choose to do with what we have? What are the choices that will ultimately leave us the richest?

In Rotary, we are all aware of the great needs in so many parts of our world. And we all know how much we can do to help through our Rotary Foundation. We can change lives, we can restore hope, we can build futures – if we choose to.

In life, everything is a choice. We can choose to close our eyes to the needs of others, to keep what we have for ourselves, to declare the problems of others to be theirs alone. Or we can choose to look past distance, past color, past language and dress and culture, and see that people everywhere are just like us – and then refuse to walk away.

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About John Borst

John Borst’s career in education spans the years 1960 to 1996. During those 36 years, he spent an equal amount of time working int he English language, Public and Catholic school boards. Borst taught in both elementary and high school environments. Positions of responsibilities held included department head in Geography, curriculum coordinator of Social and Environmental Studies, Principal, Education Officer with the Ministry of Education, Superintendent of Schools, and Superintendent of Student Services. Borst retired in 1996 as Director of Education for the legacy Dryden Board of Education. During this time, Borst has lived in the Ontario communities of Brampton, Toronto, Newmarket, Thunder Bay, Aurora and Dryden. Currently, Borst splits his time between Dryden and Toronto. Since retirement, Borst has served as a Supervisory Officer with a remote School Authority; been a freelance writer of articles on education in particular for Education Today, the magazine of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association (OPSBA); founded and edited from 2006 - 2010 the Education blog Tomorrow’s Trust: A Review of Catholic Education; and from 2003-2010 was a trustee of the Northwest Catholic District School Board.
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