Conversely, characters who face limitations and personal challenges such as physical disabilities or mental illness are almost always portrayed as villains or comical side characters deserving of pity but not respect. John Wick has become an iconic action film character because he defeats throngs of enemies almost entirely on his own, and he's never able to settle into the retirement he keeps promising himself. Many stories about assassins, spies, and supersoldiers follow a similar trajectory, portraying the lives of steely, serious men who just can't seem to give up their jobs, no matter how horrific they are and how much they brutalize them. From Blade Runner to The Usual Suspects to Inception, some of America's most classic and iconic action films feature characters who, like Wick, keep putting off retirement for the sake of pursuing one last job. Success, since the earliest days of corporations some 200 years ago, has been perceived in metrics. Leaders on the right side of the law may smile or cry, rejoice or bemoan, massage or strategise these indicators with a goal of continually improving the bottom line. Others, drawn to the dark side of corruption, may edit, spin or fall into deceit if twisting the quantifiable data improves appeal to the perception of others. All metrics in business are really only the lagging indicators of other more important measures: a total sum of personal value actions, behaviours or even collective culture. Regardless whether professionally or personally, we all have benchmarks, reports and measures in our lives that we budget, debate, deliberate, drool over, stress about or even celebrate. These measures of evidence, business and pleasure are the four metrics we benchmark to prove or feel the worth of tangible value. The four metrics of tangible value are the benchmarks we use daily in business: But for reasons I will never really understand, my mother was unusually insistent. Was she making me do it to bear witness to his helplessness or to diminish my father in his son's eyes? Was she merely concerned about his rash, wanting me to commiserate? I lifted the sheet and looked at my father's penis for the first time since I was very young. Even after officiating at a thousand funerals, I never truly felt my own mortality until my father died and I saw him in that casket. As I stared at him in that plain pine box, it hit me with surreal yet near perfect clarity. My life too would someday end, and I was going to look just like him when I was dead. That simple, stark realization has helped me move forward in fulfilling some of my lifelong dreams. There's always a sequel, featuring new opportunities with even higher stakes.

In Avengers: Endgame, Thor is made a laughingstock because he responds to an intergalactic disaster by becoming withdrawn, alcoholic, and lazy. The film also puts the actor in a fat suit, using his fatness to both indicate and mock how much worse his life has become. In the narrative of the film, it doesn't matter that Thor has lost dozens of friends and watched an unimaginable disaster ripple throughout the universe. That's not enough of an excuse for him to descend into a nonproductive, suffering state. A perfectly normal reaction to trauma and grief is rendered mockable and pathetic, and countless fat viewers end up insulted and dehumanized in the process, as do viewers with depression or addiction issues. This obsession with the strong individualist character has permeated our culture for decades. Films like The Matrix, Star Wars, and the Harry Potter series all emphasize the importance of their lead characters' being chosen ones who must sacrifice everything in order to defeat evil. These characters may have support networks and sidekicks who help them through the story, but when the final moment of triumph comes, they've almost always had to suffer and struggle alone to earn it. They're told they possess a unique ability no one else has, and they have no choice but to use that ability to save the world. Or, in the style of Jerry Maguire hollering down a phone line at the top of his lungs, 'Show me the money! Sources like Investopedia are gold for quick insights. And take a peek at the Netflix release of Steven Soderbergh's movie The Laundromat. The comedic drama unravels money laundering, questionable practices and the collapse of shell companies. It also has some of the best one-liners: 'Credit is an invention that meant you no longer needed to carry around . Credit said that even if you didn't have all the bananas you need . In the beginning, there were no dollars (or other currencies as such). It convinced me to spend money to build a small getaway in the Mojave Desert, where I can escape with only my family into the anonymity and the quiet of the desert. My father's death saddened me, but it also propelled me to take my time on earth and my life more seriously. We can each do only so much, control only so much, and at some point we have to let go, trust, live. To be at peace with our helplessness is the most terrible and liberating of lessons.

There are many ways to say goodbye, to remember, to celebrate the soul's passing on to some different level of existence, whatever that may be. The Hebrew word for funeral is l'vayah--it comes from the verb to accompany. We the living see ourselves as accompanying the deceased as he or she moves from one realm of existence to another, whatever and wherever that may be. The social distancing restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic showed me in stark relief just how beautiful it is to be surrounded by people who care when it is time to mourn. This teaches viewers that our skills and talents don't really belong to us; If we don't gladly give our time, our talents, and even our lives to others, we aren't heroic or good. Many of the most popular children's TV shows of the moment, such as Dragon Ball Super and My Hero Academia, also focus on relentlessly hardworking people who exert themselves to the point of injury or pain. I used to watch an earlier version of Dragon Ball as a kid, and I identified with the characters who pushed themselves nearly to death for the sake of winning battles. Young children were regularly depicted as sustaining bloody, painful injuries on that show, yet they always continued to fight. At the time, I admired their dedication and wanted to be tough just like them. As an adult, I'm pretty horrified by the violence and outright child abuse that's being celebrated on shows like those as hard work. Even more morally complex, modern children's shows like Steven Universe and Avatar: The Last Airbender still teach children that it's up to a singularly motivated individual to save the world. If that person has to sacrifice everything in order to do their job, so be it. In reality, of course, fighting for change is a much more gradual, collaborative process. Trade and wealth were created and represented by the exchange of goods and services. This resourceful notion is known as the bartering system. The hunter-gatherers might have offered some sharpened stones or tasty wee trimmings of meat in return for a lovely bespoke fur -- and some juicy berries on the side for extra value. Leaders or elders may have had special privileges yet tribes still strived to amass communal wealth collaboratively with a common goal: continuance and survival. The tools or weapons you'd give in exchange could be considered an early wage for hands-on services rendered to help fall a mammoth. While leading Contiki tours, I discovered exciting barter systems still thriving.

For example I know for a fact at one time you could trade really ugly or outdated staff uniforms -- you know, the bright peacock tour rep clothes -- so as not to be missed by lost passengers. In return for these luminous accoutrements you'd procure dodgy, black-market CDs with strange titles: a result of strained Russian hearing phonetically, inaccurately translating lyrics meant the Phil Collins classic 'I Wish It Would Rain Down' became 'I Wish If Would Rain Sewn'. Depending on how ugly or stupendous the shirt was, the going rate fell somewhere between two and four CDs. Imagine a funeral where only one household of mourners, not exceeding ten people, are allowed to attend. All are seated ten feet apart, and no one is allowed to carry the casket or to place earth into the grave or to hug another. No stew of stories with me in their home or in my office beforehand, no gathering with family and friends after. Just Zoom--distant and sterile, adding yet another surreal layer to an already strange journey through death. Very often, when sitting with a family the day before a funeral, I could look them in the eyes and honestly say, I know you don't believe it, but tomorrow is going to help. You will feel, even if just a little, that after a day of being surrounded by your family and friends who care and who remember, the clouds begin to lift. During the pandemic, I couldn't say that, because I didn't think it was true. To me, under those terrible circumstances, it seemed that the funeral did little if anything to help. What it did was reaffirm my faith in the importance and healing power of time-tested customs of togetherness under more usual circumstances. Instagram influencers and popular YouTubers are also major peddlers of the Laziness Lie. YouTube videos by major influencers like Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson are filled with talk about how hard the creators are working and how much they've sacrificed to earn their success. Their obscene levels of wealth are always attributed to their effort, not good luck. Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner have spent years (and multiple TV shows) portraying themselves as entrepreneurs, attributing their massive wealth and fame to the fact that they never stop hustling and looking for new opportunities. When the Instagram influencer, model, and comedian Rickey Thompson became famous enough to sell merchandise (around the time he hit four million followers), the first item he revealed was a T-shirt with his catchphrase articleed and Busy printed on the front. It's the constant narrative theme in their lives and work. Video game and comedy YouTubers often dabble in the same themes, talking about how devoted they are to their fans and how much time they're putting into each project. Some streamers regularly fall asleep on camera, because their devotion to constantly generating content runs that deep.

In one infamous case, a streamer died on camera due to sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion. He had been streaming for twenty-two straight hours at the time of his death. Peers would ask ahead of time if you were going and load you up with their unwanted shirts. I have no idea why but for some obscure reason on the outskirts of Tver, on the road to Moscow, in the 1990s, pass-me-down Contiki clothing held the same demand as the most outrageous offerings from any Versace Baroque range. Through various historical periods different items became elevated in status. Some were obvious for immediate survival -- others less so. Roman soldiers at one point earned salt for their service. The expensive commodity was used to extend the life of food. As communities grew and trade circles broadened this typical model of exchange became a little trickier to manage. It's fine when you're Rupert the rope maker delivering lengths of string to Henry the hay-bale guy who lives just a few huts up. I always begin a funeral service by teaching a brief lesson about and then reciting the Twenty-Third Psalm. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, In some ways, it can be positive for children and other viewers to hear from self-made successes on a regular basis. Social media has democratized who gets to be famous and successful--to an extent. Sometimes Black, queer twentysomethings like Rickey Thompson genuinely do ascend to fame and wealth because they produce excellent videos and work very hard. Yet for every Rickey Thompson there's a Jeffree Star, a massively successful YouTuber and makeup magnate who lives in an opulent mansion while his employees toil away in his warehouses, making the products that earned him his wealth. When massively successful stars attribute their good fortune entirely to how diligently they've worked, they set people up to have unrealistic expectations about the odds of success, and how wealth is actually meted out in this country. This is especially troublesome when the work habits being promoted are excessive and dangerous. Our media has a selection bias built into it: we rarely get to hear from the people who worked equally hard but failed or lost everything because of it.