More and more I’m seeing a crisis of value. I don’t mean “moral values” necessarily, but rather who should be valued and for what. All humans long for peace and tranquility. Are some of us really more deserving than others?
I see other people (as well as myself) struggling with their own self-worth, and the value of what they are offering to the world. I see the nation struggling with who deserves what and for what reasons. Culture itself shapes the values of its members and our culture is no different. We are struggling to break free of long held ideas of self-worth, value and how to distribute resources based on who we think is most deserving.
Much of the problem lies in the perceived limitations of the physical world. It seems to most of us that physical resources are limited. There is only so much land, so much water, so much oil, so much money, etc. If I have more, then it is logical that others would have less, that my having more deprives other people.
Then the question becomes, who is worthy of having more and why. If I am a “good” person, how can I justify having more? How can I justify depriving others for my own sake? This is the root of most of our personal abundance problems. For those of us who are empathetic, allowing abundance for ourselves seems selfish and even cruel, since it takes away from those who have less.
The only way I can justify having more is if I am producing something more valuable than other people. In this case, self-worth becomes tangled up in the value of the work I do, of what I put out. Is it better than everything else out there? Is there a demand for it? Does it get a lot of “likes”, be that emojies on social media or money in my pocket?
This is because value in our physical world has always depended on what we do and how much we have, not who we are as individuals, (aside from our bank accounts, our influence and/or our family connections). Those with fame and celebrity, those with money and power, those with prestigious backgrounds are automatically accorded value while the average person is not.
No wonder we struggle.
The question of value is also conflated with the question of who deserves what. The automatic assumption is that a valuable person deserves good things whereas a person of little value must prove himself to be deserving in order to qualify for the same things.
These ideas are so ingrained in our culture that even those (like me) who are conscious of these biases, often find themselves thinking in terms of who deserves what. If some bad luck befalls me, I wonder what I did to deserve this kind of misfortune. If my neighbors suffers ill health or a house fire, I catch myself wondering what they did to deserve such things. If good fortune comes my way, do I detect some smugness there? These thoughts come unbidden. I only catch them on reflection and am then horrified, since I know that we are all here simply to experience life in all its ups and downs, and all of us will have many experiences of all kinds during our lifetimes.
These assumptions are based on long held religious beliefs involving reward and punishment. The good are rewarded and the bad are punished. This cultural mythology has deep tentacles. Everyday experience and logic disprove these beliefs, yet I am still affected by their cultural hold-overs.
No one deserves to suffer, yet we all do from time to time. No one deserves fame and fortune any more than anyone else, yet some are committed to seeking it and are often successful.
What every single human being does deserve, is basic human respect. This includes clean water, good food, a healthy environment, a living wage, basic health care, and a good education along with ways to exercise it, which now includes access to high speed internet.
These basic necessities of modern life should not be reserved for the wealthy alone, nor should the labor of a CEO be considered any more valuable to our society than the labor of a garbage collector. One could even argue that the work of a garbage collector is, in the end, much more important to a well-functioning society than the work of a CEO.
As I contemplate these questions, I notice that the drama surrounding them is now being played out in the US Congress with the question of health care. In debating the health care bill, many congress people have come out and said unabashedly, that old people, poor people and sick people do not deserve affordable health care. This statement implies that the old, the poor and the sick are being punished because they are “bad”, or that there must be some kind of switch that people could consciously choose to flip that would prevent them from ever being old, sick or poor.
The absurdity of these assumptions is obvious. The only way you can prevent getting old is to die young. Even those that take good care of themselves will need health care many times in their lives. Increasingly, it is becoming more and more difficult to become wealthy if you have not been born into it. No wonder people are fuming.
I think it is time for all of us to think about what we value and why. Our largely unconscious cultural assumptions about who is valuable and who deserves what are clouding our vision. Is it right to heap value and respect on some people and not others, and if so why? Why do we assume celebrities and the wealthy deserve more respect (and good things) than the guy next door? Why do people who work two or three jobs to make ends meet, not deserve a living wage and/or health care? Why do people who suffer calamities like unemployment, fire or flood, not warrant help from their neighbors and the government?
As for government, what is the government if not “neighbors” writ large? We, the people, create governments so that we can do more as a group than we could do individually. The only difference between “neighbors” and government is that you generally know your neighbors whereas government serves people you both know and don’t know.
The physical world is created from the energetic world, and there is more than enough energy to go around. We no longer have to worry that there is not enough for everybody. The more respect and compassion we give out, the more will come back to us. Energy shared mutually multiplies exponentially, and we always end up with more than we give. Sharing with an open heart is a win-win for everyone.