A Powerful Tribute to Law Enforcement: Michael Josephson modifies iconic What Will Matter poem

In 2003 Michael Josephson wrote a poem called “What Will Matter” (and later named a personal blog by the same name www.whatwillmatter.com). The poem has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times and more than two dozen videos of the poem have been made (see for example https://vimeo.com/22305901; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzjPUzB1h0k; https://vimeo.com/89476173.

Last month, Mr. Josephson wrote a new version of the poem dedicated to the men and woman in law enforcement. It was recently introduced at a workshop for chiefs. Here is the poem. (a downloadable version is available at www.JosephsonsExemplaryPolicing.org. If you like it, pass it on.

WHAT WILL MATTER (Policing edition)

Ready or not, someday it will all come to an end. & There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours or days.

All things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.

It won’t matter where you came from or what rank, status, or salary you earned at the end.

Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear. &

So too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire. & Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.


What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave.

What will matter is not your success, but your significance. & What will matter is not your competence, but your character.

What will matter is every act of integrity, courage and compassion that improved and protected lives in a way that brought honor to your badge and inspired others by your example.

What will matter is that you bore criticism with dignity and faced danger without hesitation to right wrongs, enforce the law, uphold the Constitution and provide your community with order and security.

What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.

What will matter is not your memories, but the memories of those whose lives you touched.

What will matter is how long you will be remembered, by whom and for what.

Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.

It’s not a matter of circumstance, it’s a matter of choice.


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