Lately it’s been bothering me that our society, or maybe it’s just certain privileged communities, are judging people’s worth and accomplishments by how much money they earn. Most of these salaries are arbitrary and aren’t really a good gauge of someone’s value in society. And with these salaries come attitudes of entitlement and looking down on those who make less. It doesn’t seem fair.
I mean a firefighter or policeman who risks his life to save the rich and poor doesn’t make as much as an investment banker. Yet which person is more critical to basic society? A teacher or professor doesn’t earn as much as a sales person in a big company but yet these educators are likely more qualified and intelligent and build us up to be the professionals we become. However, we in this country don’t often give these educators the respect they deserve. People often think they chose an easier career because they couldn’t do something better with their life. I think a lot of this reason is because this career of teaching doesn’t earn as much money as some and many in society think that you must be dumb if you didn’t choose to make as much money as you could. They look down on the people that choose paths with less material return. I think that is sad.
Even between two medical professionals where one doctor became a local surgeon and the other chose to go work at remote clinics in a Doctors without Borders capacity, society would judge. They would be impressed with the charitable doctor for a little while but when he doesn’t have the big house and belong to the same country club they would not socialize with him long term. The surgeon, having “kept up with the Jones’ ” would be more impressive while the other would become like a story you enjoyed, discussed and forgot about.
Just because some people choose less monetarily rewarding paths, based on interest or circumstances, they shouldn’t be seen as less successful. The fact that most scientists, astronauts or explorers are paid less than most famous athletes and entertainers seems unbalanced. I know many jobs are very rewarding and satisfying in so many other ways so that keeps people in them but they shouldn’t be looked down upon by society.
As a former working woman and now a stay-at-home mom, I have heard people refer to those like me having wasted an education. This obviously shows this attitude that you’re only valuable and successful if you’re making money. Whereas I see my education and experience as being utilized in raising my kids and doing other volunteer projects in society. I’ve had my peers quickly forget that we were once on similar career paths and I chose to take a different route. Instead there is now a bit of condescension, as if my intelligence got compromised once I quit my job. Many see my work as something a less educated nanny could do. Well, even if that were the case, why should a nanny get less status in society than an executive? Is their job not valuable?
I think that everyone chooses paths that are right for them and the rest is compounded by luck and circumstances. However, if you choose not to or are unable to run into burning buildings, fight crime to save your loved ones, etc. then you should at least give the due credit to those who do choose those careers. These heroes are not necessarily less intelligent or skilled than a rich person, just different. Everyone shouldn’t be expected to have a cookie-cutter lifestyle with all the same luxuries. As long as one is not cheating, stealing, or hurting anyone, and they provide a constructive service to society then I think they deserve respect. Those who are dedicated to noble causes for little material gain should command even more respect. This is my thought of the day!!
An African proverb says, “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family (nation).”
I have a BA in psychology. I have a MA in education. I apply these degrees and countless hours of study and research to the life of my son every day. Being educated can never be wasted. The value of study and making yourself better can never be taken away.
I hear the statement about a wasted education all too often about my best friend who finised her undergrad shortly before staying home with her son. It infurates me!
I completely agree with you: our value should be determined by the mark that we leave on our world. Who cares how many degrees one has or much money is in his/her bank account if that person leaves the world a worse off place than before.
I whole heartedly agree. Back in the day I went to a “Network of Young Indian Professionals” type of party in Manhattan. Someone asked me what I do. Response “I’m a 4th grade teacher in the city”. HIS response “is that all you really want to do with your life.?” And that was the last of those parties for me!!!
What a loser! But sadly there are too many of those