An Interview with Jerry Bernard: Living Life with Meaning and Worth

Nov 29, 2011 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy
Eastern New Mexico University
Portales, New Mexico

1)     Jerry, first of all tell us about your book “Living Life with Meaning and Worth”. How did this come about?

Near our home in Glendale, California there is a Sunday Street Sale with lots of books and eats and other stuff.  This particular Sunday I headed for the book table and stood by a young man for a few minutes.  He wasn’t moving from book to book so I asked him what he was interested in.  He mumbled something and in walking away he stopped and looked back at me and said, “My step-father said I wasn’t worth anything.”  I stood stunned for a moment, wondering where that came from.  I returned home and thought about writing a page or two of “Worth and Meaning.”  Then I thought of all the people I had contact with on the Internet.  I emailed about 2,000 of them and asked if they would give their opinion of what the worth and meaning of individuals were.  I thought that maybe someone would come up with an answer that had a saving quality in it for me to write down in the two or three pages to hand to the next young person that I felt had lost their way in life.  I received eighty-two responses and had to put them all in a book.   It was enlightening.

2)      What were you trying to prove or at least investigate?

I did not know at the first.  After I began reading the responses to my inquiry, I realized that I had something that would give an understanding to the individual’s worth and meaning.  Perhaps it would turn their life around for the better.

3)      Do you see the words “worth“ and “meaning“ to have quite separate, disparate meanings?

When I would ask a person or friend what their worth and meaning was, they would look into space and not respond back to me.  I would break the silence and say to them that the “meaning” of ice is “frozen water or liquid.”  Then I would ask them, “What is your meaning, not what is your mission?”  Your mission is what you DO.  Your meaning is what you ARE.

After explaining “meaning” I would get a response of… “I need to think on what am I for a while.”  Then I would explain that “worth” meant “equal to.”  I would ask them what are you equal to in the eyes of your friends, parents and God.  It always took a while before they could answer.  However, each one thanked me for asking for it had caused them to think about themselves a little differently.

4)      How did you go about writing this book?

I began writing down the answers from the contributors and I would respond to each contributor.  I saw that some of them still did not get the picture so I took time to give my take on their contribution and tried to get the reader back on the right track to understanding their worth and meaning.

5)      Your book reminds me of the work of Viktor Frankl – has he influenced you ?

I never met or read the works of Viktor Franki. However, in my research on the Holocaust, I came upon his name and I don’t remember much except that he like many others struggled with the damage that the confinement did to them.  I remember the bitterness and disillusionment that he had when he returned home.  Viktor had to deal with his disgust for the way people felt about his tragedy.  There is a disillusionment that suffering will one day end and peace will arrive to those that live past the first ordeal.  To me the greatest pain would be to be returned home and discover that no one was waiting for me.

6)      Further, a recent book called the Purpose Driven Life has some similarities- could you comment?

I somehow have never gotten around to reading this book.  I only know that knowing one’s worth will create a good purpose in life.  Condemnation draws a person inward and begins that person’s search for punishment to take away the guilt.  When one sees their true worth and great value, condemnation and guilt flees.

7)      What have we neglected to ask?

Well, I think that what I received from the input from the 82 contributors is that I am now convinced that I have a greater worth than I ever thought possible.  It has cleared up a lot of misconceptions I have been carrying around for years.  My meaning has been cleared up and I would have to say that I am the more blessed of all of my readers by writing this book.  I thought I was writing for others.  However, I wrote this one for me.

8)      Do you have a web site where people can learn more about you and your work?

Yes!  They can link to http://www.jerrybernard.com and I think that many web pages will come up.  Films that I have been cast in; Books and Music CD Sales; and Bio.  My home link has a picture of the last music CD that I did with my wife and two of my daughters.  The people will recognize my daughter that was on the Sitcom, Wings.  Her name is Crystal Bernard.  My other daughter, Robyn was on “General Hospital” for several years.  I have two other daughters that have families.  Scarlett and Angelique are their separate names.

 

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