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Building a Life of Value: Timeless Wisdom to Inspire and Empower Us    by Jason A. Merchey order for
Building a Life of Value
by Jason A. Merchey
Order:  USA  Can
Little Moose Press, 2005 (2005)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The cover has the appearance of a Greek temple like the Parthenon. Inside Building a Life of Value (the first volume in a Values of the Wise series) is a collection of quotations organized under fourteen philosophical categories that range from Knowledge, Wisdom, & Education to Humor, Lightheartedness, & Acceptance of the Absurd, Liberty & Peace, and Truth & Justice. Introducing the collection is a quote from Gandhi, 'Be the change you wish to see in the world.'

In his Preface, Merchey offers the hope that readers 'will use the book as an inspirational reference tool to prompt new thoughts about your own values.' He compares quotes to 'messages in bottles for centuries', offering 'wisdom from near and far.' He introduces each category with his own assessment of the set of values represented, and also provides closing reflections. For example, following the quotes on Knowledge, Wisdom, & Education, he suggests, 'Instead of teaching children simply to tow the line, let's teach them to think critically, to act independently, and to challenge authority wisely.'

Here are some of the quotes I enjoyed most. From Minna Antrim comes 'Experience is a good teacher, but she sends in terrific bills.' Blaise Pascal said that 'Men never do evil so cheerfully and so completely as when they do so from religious conviction.' These wise words come from Dandemis - 'Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.' And this wonderful one from Rabindranath Tagore was new to me - 'Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.'

If, like me, you find compilations of sayings of the wise inspiring and thought-provoking, then you should acquire a copy of Building a Life of Value. In addititon to the usual sources of quotations, its author has included many that are modern and many by Native Americans, including this Great Law of the Iroquois - 'In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations' - a law that should be in force today.

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