The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

November 9, 2012

Some things are far more valuable than money’s worth

Friday, November 9, 2012 — I get the ideas for these columns from the strangest places; or rather, I should say certain things strike me in strange ways and lead my mind to begin asking questions.

When watching a special on Genghis Khan on the History Channel, I learned that warriors in the ancient Mongol horde wore silk shirts beneath their leather armor; the silk added extra protection against incoming arrows. Somehow, if an arrowhead punches through the leather, the silk would catch the arrow, curling around the missile and preventing it from punching into the body.

Silk has traditionally been valued throughout the ages, seemingly for its texture and high quality, but after learning this fact, one comes to understand that wearing silk has a practical as well as an aesthetic purpose.

Different people find different things valuable for any number of reasons. For instance, ancient cultures found gold to be of extreme value, derived mainly from its appearance and resistance to corrosion. However, in modern society gold has been found to have numerous commercial applications, namely in the use of gold as electrical conductors.

What do we find valuable nowadays? For many, the first thing that comes to mind is a cell phone, and it is a valuable tool indeed.

For me, the first thing I thought of was a pocket knife – something every decent Southern boy should have. It was the first lock-blade knife I ever owned, all stainless steel with five little ornamental holes punched through the handle.

That knife is valuable to me for a number of reasons. The first being that my grandfather gave it to me. He knew that somewhere along the line, I would need that tool and he made sure that I would be prepared when the time came. That alone makes the knife invaluable.

However, the circumstance in which I received the knife make it doubly special.

Once I was old enough, I bought myself a different knife, a much shabbier knife. I only paid about five dollars for it, so it wasn't like I got ripped off or anything. It just wasn't much of a knife, to be honest. Regardless, I was proud of my purchase and I took it to my grandfather, a fellow lover of cutlery, to show it off.

Upon inspecting the blade, Pawpaw told me what he thought about it: he even showed me the spots that showed its obvious low quality. I was a little disappointed, to say the least. But the next time I went to see him, he had a knife waiting for me: the stainless steel lock-blade.

The experience taught me a valuable lesson, in addition to netting me a valuable tool. I learned at a young age to look at the quality of an item, not just its monetary value; there are things more valuable than money, even if you do have to use money to buy them.

The value of an item shouldn't come down to its cost, but rather what it can do: act as a valuable tool, teach a valuable lesson or remind you that someone out there loves you and is looking out for you. Proof of purpose, regardless of how impactful, brings true value.


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