Gerry ChidiacA simple principle of work seems to have been forgotten by many: those who put in the extra effort are eventually well rewarded.

As consumers, we know this is true. We prefer to spend our money where we will get good service and value and where we know that we are respected.

Employees who say they will only put in more effort when their wages improve have this principle backward. Only when they go the extra mile, even when no one seems to be watching, will their earning power improve.

This is true not only for workers but also for employers. If an employer is not willing to pay an employee what their extra efforts deserve, another company will hire and promote that person. It is interesting to observe that many industries today are unable to attract qualified staff. When wages are low and working conditions are poor, skilled and motivated workers find better jobs.

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It is also important to note that rewards are not only financial. People are motivated for many different reasons. Some want to be the best in their field, others want to find answers to difficult questions, others want to make the world better, and others want to become their best selves. While financial compensation often comes with achieving this sort of excellence, we all measure success differently.

Some may fear putting in more effort because they do not want to be taken advantage of. While psychologists estimate that between five and 15 per cent of the population is manipulative, most people are not. Do we really want to allow a few selfish people to take away our joy of living life to the fullest? We need to be very mindful of their tactics, but we cannot allow them to control our lives.

Much of our fulfillment in life comes from working tirelessly toward goals that we find significant. As a teacher, I dream of a world where every child can achieve their greatest potential, regardless of where they live, what they look like, or what learning challenges they may face. The world is dealing with tremendous difficulties today. The person with a cure for cancer or with a solution to the climate crisis could well be living in a refugee camp at this moment.

I am well aware that my dream is unlikely to be achieved in my lifetime, especially with the greed, power, and lack of ethics, wisdom, and humanity prevalent in the global military-industrial complex. We tend to forget, however, that each of us is creating a legacy, whether positive or negative, whether done mindfully or in ignorance.

The great American writer and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson stated, “If you serve an ungrateful master, serve him the more. Put God in your debt. Every stroke shall be repaid. The longer the payment is withholden, the better for you; for compound interest on compound interest is the rate and usage of this exchequer.”

Regardless of whether we see results, keep working toward that dream. Something amazing is happening.

I may not be able to give every child in the world the education they deserve, but I can provide that for the young people who sit in front of me every day. I cannot stop the wars, but I can inspire my readers to question the morality of the military-industrial complex.

Even when we have no idea how our goals will be accomplished, even when they seem impossible, they are coming to fruition.

Perhaps this is why “the arc of the moral universe bends toward justice,” as Dr. Martin Luther King so frequently stated. When we work toward a better world, either we will achieve it, or it will become our legacy.

Gerry Chidiac specializes in languages, genocide studies and works with at-risk students. He is the recipient of an award from the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre for excellence in teaching about the Holocaust.

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