mattering fairness image


We should aim to balance feeling valued with adding value. The two must be present to experience mattering. A life of complete sacrifice without any appreciation is unsustainable and frustrating for most of us. Our ultra-social nature requires connection and a degree of affirmation. By the same token, a life of complete self-absorption is isolating at best, and harmful at worst. 

You just have to witness the narcissism epidemic to realize that feeling valued, without adding value to others, is a dangerous path for individuals and societies. This is why there cannot be individual or collective mattering without balancing the need to feel valued with the moral imperative to add value, and not just to the self, but to others. This is why mattering cannot be devoid of values.
The genius of the French revolution was to offer values that bridge between the personal and communal good. Liberty, equality, and fraternity, correspond, respectively, to personal, communal, and relational values. Liberty is analogous to autonomy and self-determination. Equality speaks to the need to foster a community where everyone has the same worth. Fraternity is the bridging value.
If we care about each other, and we care about the community as a whole, we should uphold relational values like fraternity, solidarity and belonging. Healthy societies pay attention to all of them. Equality without liberty robs people of their unique identity, whereas liberty without equality sends the message that certain groups are not as valued as others. Fraternity, in turn, reminds us to create bonds of solidarity and mutual help. There is no belonging without fraternity.
Whereas freedom and equality may be regarded as human rights, fraternity represents human connection. Rights, without bonds of warmth and affection, create walls. Fraternity, instead, creates bridges. We matter the most when we pay attention to the triumvirate: liberty, equality, and fraternity.

  Photo of Isaac

posted by Isaac Prilleltensky