A Revelation of What will Matter

Buick’s new ad was derived from a poem called What will Matter… by Michael Josephson.  Upon hearing the eloquent words, I was moved to look up the full poem and here it is below.  If you haven’t heard it before, it’s an excellent read and perhaps a bit of an eye-opener to some.

“Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.

Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.
So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from or what side of the tracks you lived on at the end.
It won’t matter whether you were beautiful or brilliant.
Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?

What will matter is not what you bought but what you built,
not what you got but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched,
empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew,
but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories but the memories of those who loved you.
What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.”

I thought this poem was entirely complimentary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. ”   It’s all about what we pass on to the future generations.

I discovered from Wikipedia that Michael Josephson used to be a professor of law as well as an attorney.  He also founded the Josephson Institute of Ethics in Los Angeles.   He is the spokesperson for the Institute and speaks regularly on the radio.  His broadcasts are aired on a Los Angeles radio station as well as Armed Forces Radio. 

I’d like to find out more about Josephson and his work as this is the first time I have come across his name or his words.  After studying the likes of Aristotle, Kant, and John Stewart Mill … it’s nice to know that there are still a select few out there who are adding to the noble body of extant ethical writings.

I’ll have to check out the Josephson Institute’s website http://www.charactercounts.org/ when I get home tonight as it was unfortunately blocked by our company’s internet filters here at work …  

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for passing Michael’s poem along.

    It’s so weird that your work would block CharacterCounts.org. I wonder what set the filters off?’

    Thanks again,


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