The Values at Your Funeral

Classic Robin Hanson:

I attended a memorial service today, for someone I hardly knew. His family was wealthy and full of energy and passion and creativity. At the service folks wore nice clothes, and were pleasant and polite. Nice food was served in a scenic setting, beautiful music played, and idealistic speeches given, talking about family, dedication, caring, bonding, and intelligence. It was noted, for example, that he did the crossword puzzle daily, in ink.

Such services seem designed to affirm the shared far values of attendees, and to affirm the status of those who achieve such values. But the idea of service like the one I attended appeals less to me, since I put less weight on the values it affirmed. So what kind of service might better affirm the values I hold high, raising the status of people like me who most affirm those values?

Well one thing I value greatly is insight. So I’d like it if service attendees would each share an insight they’d had that day, or perhaps in the last week. Anything about themselves or the world around them they hadn’t quite understood as clearly before.

Another thing I value is honesty. So I’d like it to be clear to everyone that they need not say only nice things about the deceased.  Finally, I value grand ambition, so I’d like folks to talk about how exactly they hope to have a huge impact on the world….

The emphases are mine. Here is the best comment on Robin's post, which only regular readers of his will appreciate. Robin is probably the most original thinker I read.


Next time you're in an argument, use this line if appropriate: "Your statement is technically true, but I disagree with the connotations. If you state them explicitly, I will explain why I think they are wrong."

Here's a smart way to make a PB&J.

Chris Dixon is characteristically insightful when analyzing Google and Amazon strategy (links within the post are good too).

3 comments on “The Values at Your Funeral
  • @”So what kind of service might better affirm the values I hold high, raising the status of people like me who most affirm those values?”

    Insight, honesty, and grand ambition? A lyrical drunken Irish wake would admirably serve the purpose.

    I wouldn’t curse a dog with the usual soul-dead Calvinist Protestant funeral.

  • Love the linked comment – clearly all the elements of a well-crafted inside joke for those familiar with Robin. Excellent stuff.

    I recently had to deliver an address at the memorial of someone I entrusted with my secrets and sins and relied on for wise counsel – my therapist.

    Toughest thing I ever had to do. I imagine you saw the video, Ben.

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