marbles & misfits: knowing the intrinsic value of a person


who we belong to

A few weeks ago, my family and I saw The Greatest Showman—the story of how P.T Barnum started his renowned circus. While my kids were enamored by the music, my mind kept going to marbles throughout the film. 

Let me explain by posing a question:

How valuable do you think my marbles would be if I sold them on eBay?

The unanimous conclusion, I’m sure, is not much! My marbles wouldn’t be valuable because there are a lot of marbles on the planet and marbles, in and of themselves, are simply not worth that much. 

However, if the very same marbles belonged to Lebron James, Taylor Swift, Brad Pitt, or any other celebrity, they might be viewed differently—they’d be much more valuable! 

intrinsic value

Value, when it comes to human beings, is best determined by who we belong to. Real value is intrinsic. It’s not about how we look, what we have, or where we live—it’s about whose image we were made in. 

In The Greatest Showman, Barnum puts together a show using people who society would call the outcasts, the misfits, the freaks. What Barnum envisioned was something that would showcase the variety, talent, and individuality among people. “Everyone is special and nobody is like anyone else,” Barnum said, “That’s the point of my show.”

Something about that is true for us today, except we’re not performing in a show, we’re living out our lives. Each of us are deeply valuable because of who we belong to; racism, sexism, ageism, and any other prejudice or judgement that exists simply has no regard for the value inherent in us all. 

Recently, I filmed a video about this idea of marbles and intrinsic value. Check it out…

It’s true, my bag of marbles probably wouldn’t sell for as much as Lebron James’ but, lucky for me, my worth isn’t defined by what I do or how much my marbles sell for (and neither is yours).

Great things happen when each person knows who they are and believe in their own value. This creates an environment where people don’t rely solely on another person, profession, or possession to make them feel valuable. Next time you’re tempted to judge a person’s appearance, talent, success, or worth, ask yourself why. 

In The Greatest Showman, James Gordon Bennett, the founder of the New York Herald, exclaimed to P.T. Barnum, “You are putting folks of all kinds on the stage with you, presenting them as equals!” 

The truth is, they are equals. Whatever it is that sets us apart, the intrinsic value in each of us pulls us back together. What would it look like if we all lived as if that were true?