What is Value?

24 11 2012

When I ponder our self-destructive society’s obsession with material gain, it helps me to vividly recognize just what is actually of true value. Without a connection to what is real, we get into a dull and narrow existence. We do not see anything peripheral; instead it becomes a burrow of obsession with what our next steps are to get through the generic day. The notion of the state of the world’s economy is not real. We cannot eat, breathe, nor drink the statistics, words nor latest news about who has become ‘rich’ on the backs of so many people who are struggling to have enough food to survive the near future. For these people, their realities are much more in the present. In other words, their concerns are ‘real’.

What truly makes me feel fulfilled? Certainly, it was not my much focused trip to a chain store this week to pick up some essentials. There were not windows; there were only people drearily roaming and gathering packages of food. I enjoyed my chat with the cashier, disregarding her obligatory, “Did you find everything you needed today?”  She was 70 years old, and had decided not to buy into withering away and dying on some death-row cruise ship to nowhere. Becoming aware of the ambient sounds, I groaned “Christmas music, already? Oh, no. . . .” The nice cashier gave me a knowing nod, commenting, “It has been on all day, and I’ve basically tuned it out.” Just what is the purpose of the music? What was a celebration of the birth of Christ has become a retailers’ profit heaven on Earth. The popular culture is to pull out all stops, and spend resources on mass-produced superfluous items. Where is the spirituality of that? I prefer the socializing around Yuletide, an opportunity to connect with people who, like me, are usually too focused on work (survival).

True value in life does not arise from glitzy shopping malls, with multinationals drawing the masses in with deals on objects which are contributing to our world’s slow demise. The manufacturing leads to so much in the way of greenhouse gases, because people take the shortest route to profit. To remain ‘competitive’ the world dies, akin to Nero fiddling while Rome burned. Real valuable experiences are peacefully looking at stars at night, or beautiful blue skies and the variety of clouds by day. Value is putting one’s hand on an old tree, and looking up at its branches. It is being quiet, beside a stream – frozen or flowing. Experiencing my eldest child’s first word, “Daddy” had infinitely more power than going to an electronics store to buy the latest computer tablet. Going for a hike in the mountains, to take in nature, is markedly better than getting into a car and surviving in a concrete sea. I do not give a damn what sort of car I have, as long as it minimizes the negative effects on our planet. The concept of value is somewhat an oxymoron, as the things that cost the least are the most rewarding.

 

 

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