Society’s screwed up priorities?

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I wonder if our society is as dumb and shallow as it actually appears to be? 

Perhaps it is just a case of evolutionary change in social priorities and the personal expectations of individuals? I have to wonder sometimes however; Am I actually living in a society that I don’t recognise any more or, one I don’t particularly like? 

In a recent BBC Radio 4 poll on what people should be paid, respondents gave some really strange replies to the questions posed but why is this? 

Have we all got our priorities wrong? Do we answer these polls based upon self-interest and/or what we actually aspire to as individuals (or at least dream of)? Perhaps it might even be a case of say the first thing that comes to mind, simply to get the pollster out of your face. Irrespective of the above, it would appear that, many of us actually have a great deal of life’s priorities totally screwed up!

London Evening Standard: “Britons think Premiership footballers should be paid more per year than the Prime Minister or FTSE 100 chief executives, a new poll suggests. The survey of 1,000 adults asked how much different professions should be paid annually, but respondents were not told the average salary for each profession.” (Read full story)

People thought that salaries should be either increased or decreased as follows:- 

  • Minimum wage – Up by almost 50%
  • Prime Minister – Down by 16%
  • Train drivers – Down by 30%
  • Secondary school head teachers – Down by 41%
  • Nurses – Up by 13%
  • Footballer – Down by 79%
  • Business Executive – Down by 94%

In my opinion (in the ideal world) anyone’s pay should logically be based upon their role and actual worth as an individual. But, we don’t live in an ideological world therefore, who defines financial value to a business, or indeed to society as a whole?

Today’s predominant methods for defining a remuneration packages are for it to be either, negotiated between employee and employee or, it is based upon business and social expectation and the final figure is defined on a grouping basis. Given the fact our society has a legally set ‘minimum wage’ structure, one that is (supposedly) set at a level sufficient to live by, does this therefore mean that in real terms, the vast majority of us are all actually over paid?

It was interesting that whilst writing this post, there is some TV show rumbling along in the background… The show is about the life of the (apparently famous) celebrity gossip blogger called Perez Hilton. The interviewer asks him; “so do you do this for money or what?” 

“No, I don’t do it for the cash, I do it for fun. I want my life to be full of fun, the cash is just a bonus”Perez Hilton

Easy for him to say, especially when his blog earns something in the region of $50,000.00 per day in advertising revenue alone!

Most of the things we like to do actually do cost money, so the amount you actually have must have bearing upon how happy you are in life, doesn’t it? It all depends on your expectations and the things that actually give you pleasure and enjoyment.

The apparent popularity of Perez who, in real terms is actually a ‘nobody’ done nothing type of person, is a prime example of how our society has developed unrealistic expectations of financial worth. Our TV along with a proliferation of Gossip Magazines are jam-packed full with individuals like this. Ones who are paid grossly exorbitant amounts for actually producing nothing for the society we live in, apart from gossip in his case. That said, you have to admire Perez for his business acumen and his ability to cash-in on the undoubted shallowness of today’s society!

It has been said that… “The Best Things in Life Aren’t Things” a saying that is far too often forgotten, ignored or even unknown in today’s society. Some may find the book The Best Things in Life: A 20th-Century Socrates Looks at Power, Pleasure, Truth and the Good Life by Peter J. Kreeft, a useful source of perspective on our individual expectations.

Today it appears that, the vast majority of us are far too materialistic in our outlook on life. We continually crave what someone else has (but we haven’t), we measure our (perceived) social standing in fancy posessions and quantities of cash. Now I have no objection to anyone who works hard and as a result, is able to afford all the ‘nice things’ in life that they wanted however, these ‘things’ we crave, and that we often place ourselves in hoc for (because we haven’t actually made our million yet), are at the end of the day, just things!

We could all do well in remembering; we came into the world with nothing and, as sure as eggs are eggs, we will leave it in the same way!

During our lifetimes, we may well make a massive impact upon our nearest and dearest loved ones, perhaps even influence our peers and possibly, there is even a chance that what we do or say, even has an impact upon our society.

People such as Mari Curie, Sir Winston Churchill, Bob Marley and Mahatma Gandhi are all well-known for their ‘impact on society’ and the social legacy they left behind. A person such as Nelson Mandela is another living example of that ilk. If I had any aspiration to seek popularity which I don’t, I for one, would far rather be remembered and talked about in the same vein as any of the above. Highly unlikely I know however, that is the only type of accolade I would court.

Not for me the extremely short-lived praise that accompanies the passing of a celebrity gossip or self-centred socialite, an also ran premiership football player, one of todays electrically enhanced and invented plastic pop stars or even, Mr Smith CEO with his 2.4 snotty nosed kids, a precocious sweet 16 daughter, a yacht in the South of France, 4 holidays per year and his six figure salary with bonuses… And no, I’m not even a little bit jealous… There really is more to life! 

“Any life, no matter how long and complex it may be, is made up of a single moment – the moment in which a man finds out, once and for all, who he is.” – Jorge Luis Borges

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