Culture

Excerpt from “Toward a better future for all, faster.”, with commentary on Art & Context.

What if we could give people the time and freedom to find out exactly what their strengths and weaknesses are and how they can meaningfully participate in society and be valued for who they are and what they do?

Right now our society seems to value math and logic skills over associative thinking and emotional ones, as if math-proficiency is indicative of ‘superior’ intelligence. It is not superior, it is different. A healthy society would value both.

Right now we have a society that is forcing people to discard who they are so that they can be “responsible adults” and fit into a pre-set notion of what is dignified and what deserves respect.

When artists are forced to take a job for a living, for example, they get extremely defensive. This is because people who are not artists themselves want to assign a functional/work value and put a pricetag on something that inherently has no price because it is priceless. But to many it is seen as useless, so nothing special, it isn’t appreciated. To the artist and to those who enjoy art, these artworks have tremendous value. Don’t get me wrong, peoples value of an artwork itself changes based on several factors, such as the rarity, or the ‘notability’ of the artist. That is a bit different. We value art — but do we really value artists and the work they do?

Like most things, people spend time translating from thought to reality though, if it can’t make money in our system it is hardly appreciated or valued.

Now consider that anything could potentially be taken to the level of art, yet culturally we only seem to value certain arts. Art however, is a critical component of history, our humanity and symbolic communication. In the context of financial stability, art is without doubt cast aside.

Sure, that’s reality you say, but to those who are ‘full-on-artists’ — that’s who they are to the core of their being: forcing them to put a price on their art and participating in a culture that seems to have a completely different value system is like forcing a comedian to be a full-time clown.

That’s extreme, and extreme views often don’t take into account context. Is it any wonder artists may get defensive?

Context

The reality is that Artists, Musicians, Doctors, and Farmers all have the potential to be life changing and profound depending on the frame of reference or context.

In the context of financial stability, our culture seems to devalue art. Is this a byproduct of a culture that is constantly forced to “earn a living”? We tend to associate art with leisurely effort, and tend to bundle it in with leisure time, even though it takes time, dedication, work, and effort to make art (or music, or videogames, or films, or novels).

Right now and for a long time our culture has held “work” up on a pedastal and treated those who do not work, who do not have a job, as if they do not exist.

The latest 2017 national budget proposal states: “Work must be the center of our social policy,” implying that work must be the sole provider of wellbeing. If you do not work you should suffer.

We might as well say: “I work, therefore I am.”

There is something profoundly wrong with that.

Work and the motivation to obtain esteem.

Work has become national pride in the name of enabling more work, of glorifying job creators and giving them all the power, rather than national pride in the name of societal, human betterment, purpose, and upholding the value of a human being and what one could accomplish, regardless of if they have a job or not.

Would the motivation to obtain esteem through art be different if we didn’t glorify jobs and work as defining human value, as validating an existence?

The work of an esteemed Surgeon or Doctor, for example, is esteemed because society deems it so incredibly valuable, moreso than merely the financial value. They might say “I did the work, I’m exceptionally skilled, I am valued, I contribute — why can’t you?” — but that is applying and comparing their own self-worth without context of what society deems valuable or considers worthy of esteem.

Why does our culture seem to have a misunderstanding of the motivation to obtain esteem? The motivation to obtain esteem: Is it for money above all else? Are they a Surgeon because they want to be wealthy? Or is it to benefit society and community? Is it for both? They must come to their own realization that the work they do is esteemed because society deems it so incredibly valuable.

Did the Wright Brothers invent the airplane because they wanted to be “job creators”?

No. They created the control system for the aircraft so that they could prove it could be done and because they were inventors that wanted to advance society forward.

That’s what science is about. Advancing humanity forward, progressing into higher standards of wellbeing. It goes beyond politics or system. They did not do it for the sake of making more money or more work, for work’s sake.

Shouldn’t we be highly alarmed when our culture begins to diminish the values of what makes us human — our individuality, our uniqueness, our creativity, our thoughts?

We actually prefer not to put a price on thoughts — they’re priceless, like works of art, because sometimes they can be truly new and unique.

We know that most people have inside them the capacity for greatness.

An unhealthy society is one that only sees thoughts as valuable when those thoughts make money.

An unhealthy society is one that only sees people as valuable when those people make money.

Have you heard someone insultingly use the phrase “precious snowflake”? This is a belittling and patronizing way of saying “you’re nothing special, you are not a unique snowflake, you are no different than anyone else.” Consider the next time you get into a discussion where this occurs, consider the motivation for childish name-calling is likely with the interest of selfish profit and/or self-promotion — and you begin to see why one would blurt things like “snowflake”.

We are all unique and yet have so very much in common — all at the same time. It’s not a paradox, it’s reality.

I once thought you need bad actions to appreciate the good ones. The truth is you don’t need aphids on a rose to see how beautiful it is.


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