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John Eggers: What’s the toughest job in the world?

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We all have challenging jobs, but what would be at the top of your list for being the toughest job?

Without question, being the President of the United States is about as tough as it gets. When I think about the huge decisions President Obama has to make every hour of every day of every week, I break out in a sweat. I’m sure his hair will be all gray by the time he leaves office.

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I often wonder how police officers can make it through the day carrying all of those things on their belt and still do their job. I asked an officer once how much all of that stuff weighs and he said about 42 pounds. What would unarmed, good ol’ Andy Taylor of Mayberry say? He would say, “Support your local sheriff.” Law enforcement people do not have cushy jobs.

Being a kindergarten teacher is also no walk in the park. How do you keep busy a room full of wall-to-wall little people for six or seven hours? One prerequisite for kindergarten teachers is that they must have eyes in the back of their heads.

Talk about stress, how about an NFL football coach as having a tough job? Even when they win, critics find ways to call them losers. Most coaches sleep in their office and forgot the names of their wives.

Let’s not forget mothers. And then there are the Marines. How about playground monitors?

Speaking of tough jobs, does the name Kenneth Feinberg, a lawyer, mean anything to you? He may very well have the most difficult job in the world. It was up to Feinberg to make the decisions on how much money each family of a 9/11 victim would receive. To do this he had to estimate how much each victim would have earned in a full lifetime as well as take into account how many limbs they may have lost. At the end of the process, a total of $7 billion was awarded to the families. He was the lone decider.

In one case, Feinberg tells the story of a mother of two young children who lost their fireman dad in 9/11. The mother came to Feinberg to pick up a check for $2 million, which, Feinberg said, would be ready in a month or two.

The mother was very emphatic about needing the money right now. When Feinberg asked, “Why?” she told him that she was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer and had just 10 weeks to live. She wanted the money so she could begin the process of setting up a trust fund for her kids and take care of other financial matters before she died.

Feinberg saw to it that she received her check and in just eight weeks; he attended her funeral.

Any interest in Feinberg’s job? Kenneth Feinberg continues to be the one person we turn to when it comes to deciding who gets how much in tragedies like the 9/11 attacks, the Aurora, Colo., movie theater massacre and the Virginia Tech shooting, the Boston Marathon bombing and more. By the way, he does it all pro bono.

Well, all of those jobs are challenging and many of you might want to include your job among “the world’s most challenging.” But, yes, there is an even more difficult job.

You may not have heard of Kenneth Feinberg but you will have heard of these people: Jesus (killed), Mahatma Gandhi (killed), Dalai Lama (exiled), John Kennedy (creator of the Peace Corps, killed), Martin Luther King, Jr. (killed), Nelson Mandela (imprisoned), Aung San Suu Kyi (Nobel Peace Prize winner from Myanmar, still under detention) Rigoberta Menchú (Nobel Peace Prize winner, a Mayan Indian of Guatemala, family members murdered).

All of these individuals have one thing in common. Their job in life was largely dedicated to promoting peace

By the time you read this, the International Day of Peace, held on Sept. 21 of each year will be over. In 1981, the United Nations General Assembly, by unanimous vote, established the International Day of Peace, which stated in part “…to devote a specific time to concentrate the efforts of the United Nations and its Member States, as well as the whole of mankind, to promoting the ideals of peace. . .”

My wife recently asked me if there ever was a time when the world was not experiencing war. I don’t think there was. War has always been part of the world and always will be. So what good is it to set aside, just one day a year, to honor peace?

John Kennedy said, “Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures. And however undramatic the pursuit of peace, the pursuit must go on.”

It would have been very easy for all of those people I mentioned who worked toward peace to leave the office at 5 p.m. and go to a movie; but they didn’t because they felt it was important to pursue the lofty idea that it is better to hold each other’s hand than shoot each other in the head.

The official peace day is over for 2013 but anyone, anywhere can celebrate peace every day. It can be as simple as lighting a candle at noon, sitting in silent meditation, or doing a good deed for someone you do not know. Or it can involve getting your co-workers, organization, school, community or government engaged in a large event. “The impact of millions of people in all parts of the world, coming together for one day of peace, is immense, and in the end, it will make a difference,” claim the officials of International Peace Day.

“I believe without a shadow of a doubt that science and peace will finally triumph over ignorance and war, and that the nations of the earth will ultimately agree not to destroy, but to build up,” said Louis Pasteur.

What is the toughest job in the world? If you are a peacemaker, you have it. That’s good news because the Bible says, “The peacemakers shall be called the children of God.”

JOHN R. EGGERS of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.

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