In my brief perusal of social media in the last few months, and in my research for one of the books I'm working on, I have noticed an alarming trend. Okay, it's not something I've JUST noticed (ergo my upcoming book about homelessness), but it's something I'm finding more deeply affecting the more I look into it: How little Americans in general value themselves and the work that they do. It's like there's some strange martyrdom attached to needless suffering; like you aren't doing anything important unless it's damned near killing you. That's twisted. The flip side of it is that the American worker is seriously undervalued by employers. There's this idea that folks should be so grateful to have a job at all, that they should be willing to take what they can get. Um...HELLO!
Once upon a time, folks actually felt somewhat responsible for the people who helped them to achieve success. A job was long term, people mattered, and folks could live on what they were paid. A friend of mine apprenticed for 14 years, learned a trade and learned it well. He now has his own business that he put everything into and he does all the skilled labor himself. His work is meticulous and beautiful, but he STILL has to argue about his labor costs (which are quite reasonable in his industry). It makes me CRAZY. Recently, someone close to me was lectured by her employer about how hard that employer worked for their homes and cars. Meanwhile, the employees (who are ACTUALLY the ones who's labor supports the employers homes and cars) are struggling to support their families and driving junkers or riding the bus to work. It's like, the worse the job is to do, the lower the pay-scale. There is something very wrong with all of that. The reality is, it's the people who DO who are the most necessary and valuable. If you don't believe that, try running your business without them.
Every once in a while I think "what if?" about random situations. As people are systematically being taught to survive with less and less income, it seems almost inevitable that the trend will ultimately make money obsolete (shh...just go with me here, lol). If it came to that, who would survive? People who move money around and tell others what to do? Not so much. In a world where money is meaningless, they're screwed. The people who do though, well, they'll just keep doing, but for themselves. The builders will build, the farmers will farm and the barter system will be alive and well. It already is. It's been around for a long time, and I've noticed a definite uptick in barter activity since the economy went south several years ago. Hell, even I helped clean stalls for fresh eggs not so long ago. I've done a lot of bartering over the years. The money folks will be waving around meaningless pieces of paper, and any power that may have given them at one time will have disappeared. The only thing I don't understand is why folks can't awaken to their own value NOW.
Okay, maybe I DO understand it. The propaganda is strong. But imagine a world where the value of a human being is actually recognized. What if? What if the hard working and skilled folks were running the country? Imagine the country run by farriers, folks who made or repaired quality items by hand, artists (who wear their souls on the outside of their bodies), storytellers, farmers, carpenters, and the people willing and able to assist and promote the value of others in a symbiotic and fair way that recognizes the value of all. What if?
Okay, reality time. I had my John Lennon moment, my dream of a utopia where a few people with money don't determine the fate of everybody else. It was a fun thought, and a blessed escape from a reality where people are asleep and believe all the bull-sh** that others feed them, even if the briefest moment of thought would enlighten them to the reality that it's to their own detriment. Okay...maybe I need to set the sad book aside for a bit and focus on the novel? It's scary and twisty, but is proving to be much more fun and lively than reality.
I believe in the power of the human spirit. I believe in compassion, kindness and love. I believe these things can overcome hatred, prejudice and unkindness. I need to focus on looking at what's positive for awhile so I can find my optimism again.