Equality and Effort

I started off writing a comment on a fellow blogger’s page after she had linked to the Mirandasings video that I had posted called, ” I Don’t Support Equality”..

The blogger enjoyed the post and it got her thinking about equality and inequality in terms of talents and abilities and in terms of people’s rights. I agreed with her that we are not equal in talents or abilities although equality of human rights must be observed as she also stated.

I then realised that I was going somewhere else with my comment – as those of you who know me know I’m inclined to do. 😉

Hence this post.

I suppose what drives most people batty is the idea of inequality based on human rights. In the UK any perceived violation of human rights can be referred to the European Court where certain agreements are in place to protect the rights of individuals as human beings. People have done it and legislation has changed to reflect any injustice. In the US I guess that would come under your Constitution.

Nowadays it seems a nonsense in our culture to think that women once did not have the right to vote. You should hear my daughters on that one. They just can’t imagine that this was ever the case. One of them last night was asking me why women in the workforce were ever paid less. (Not that it still does not happen). There followed a history lesson.

I completely agree that we are not equal in talents and abilities and what a boring world it would be if that were the case.

However, there is an identified hierarchy of human need that has to be recognised when we speak of equality for people and these rights are paramount, I feel, when we argue for equality.

450px-Maslow's_Hierarchy_of_Needs.svg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow’s_hierarchy_of_needs

What I can’t bring myself to feel comfortable with is that some talents and abilities are more recognised as valued than others and so we have crazy situations where footballers are paid a fortune for their skill with a ball and, of course, the effort they put in to acquiring that skill.

We have politicians whose ‘skill’ in their field may have less to do with their innate ability than other forces that come into play e.g. a thirst for power or glory, an ability to articulate and/or be presentable to the public, a family tradition of politics (unless we choose to call those innate abilities, I suppose).

We have models whose looks rather than talent determine their success in their field. Although we could argue that this too is innate good fortune.

We have movie stars and pop stars whose individual talents may or may not far outweigh the accumulated talents of so many others. But does that mean their efforts are any more worthy than those of ‘untalented’ people?

What really concerns me is that there are millions, well billions, of people getting up every day and putting in the effort to be active, work (if they can and if they are able to find it), to try their best at whatever they do and the reward, in terms of material return, in no way reflects the effort.

We could argue that it is more difficult for people with minimal talent to achieve great success and therefore their efforts must be worth more – that they try at all.

When we come back to the hierarchy of human needs we could argue that as long as we have the bare minimum at the first two levels we’re sorted. But, if that is the case, why do we all strive for more than the minimum? I think we all, or most of us, want to achieve that highest level. But what are the chances of that when basic needs are not met? And there are so many reasons why those needs may not be met. Not all of them self-inflicted as some politicians and others would have us believe.

There is a growing tendency to look at the ‘have-nots’ with some disparagement as if they choose not to have or to depend on the state for basic requirements.

I know of no one whose basic needs are met while depending on the state. And I know quite a few people whose inability to manage with what is received results in loss of electricity and heating. Results in doing without what many consider to be basic essentials. people who either are unable to work or for whom no work is available.

First priorities always include food and shelter. These are two on the lowest most basic level of human needs. And they both cost!

Perhaps that’s why sex is so popular. It’s free!

Why else is there a growth in food banks? Why else are so many at risk of losing their homes? Why else are so many children still living below  the recognised poverty line? No amount of ‘handouts’ from the state matches the level needed to avoid that.

Sure, there are some who abuse the system. But the percentage is miniscule compared to the percentage lost through tax fraud.

fraud chart_1http://www.cas.org.uk/features/myth-busting-real-figures-benefit-fraud

Inequality is alive and kicking. Not always because of differentiated talents or abilities. But because we as a society value certain skills more than others. As long as we are prepared as a world to pay millions for the work of dead artists and millions for talented footballers we are telling most of the world population that effort does not matter. That dragging yourself out of bed everyday and doing your damndest in whatever it is you’re doing isn’t worth the effort needed to do so. As long as we listen to purveyors of distorted truth and cite laziness or licence as the reason for hardship rather than economic mis/management and inequitable policies, practices and perceptions, there will be inequality.

Get Up MM900285266MH900358961

Einstein may have been right when he said that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. But in our world the perspiration seems to count for very little. Regardless of the fact that it is the perspiration of the vast majority that keep the wheels of government and commerce going round.

The fellow blogger mentioned above asked at the end of her post,

“What do you think? Is equality possible? Or should we focus on encouraging and developing our personal talents?”

It may be Utopian to imagine that equality is possible given that we are so varied as humans. And it’s great that we are. Let’s develop those talents and innate abilities and attributes. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that, for most people, it will not be their talents that take them to work each day or get them out of bed to tackle whatever their day may hold. It will be the effort involved in believing that another day in life has to be accomplished as best they can even while unappreciated.

Now how do we change a value system that no longer appears to support or accommodate the realisation of our basic human needs?

Now here’s a Scots comedian who knows what I’m talking about. Maybe I should just have posted this in the first place. 😉

 

22 thoughts on “Equality and Effort”

  1. As you pointed out on my comments page, you certainly took a more political stance on this topic. 🙂

    I’m in America, so maybe my perspective is a little different. Here, we have a lot of programs to help people through hard times, so basic needs can be met. And we have a lot of options to help people get ahead in their chosen career. I think the biggest problem with meeting people’s basic needs is that many people simply do not realize what is possible.

    I saw an article, I’m not really sure where it was off the top of my head, but the woman who wrote it came from a very poor family. And she pointed out something profound. Until she had actually achieved success, she hadn’t even realized it was a possibility for her or her family. Nobody had ever told her that it was possible. So maybe, part of the problem is that people do not know what is possible, so they don’t reach for their full potential.

    Sorry about the rant, it seems I almost have another blog post out of this topic.

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    1. Unfortunately here there is a trend at the moment to vilify people in receipt of benefits and the reasons being cited are the abuses within the system. The figures, however, do not equate. In fact, there is a greater proportion of unclaimed benefits because, as you say, people are unaware of entitlements. And that figure is not publicised and popularised the way benefit fraud is.

      On top of that the minimum wage in no way keeps in line with inflation. In fact many sections of the workforce are not receiving any sort of cost of living rise.

      My point particularly is that people’s efforts are not rewarded. And their ability to finance themselves is therefore not proportionate.

      It is difficult to imagine how people may progress to the higher levels of the hierarchy and achieve success when their most pressing requirements are to feed and keep a roof over their family’s heads.

      It almost becomes an ideal of young people to ‘become famous’ as they perceive this as an immediate means of gratification. Work as an ethic becomes undervalued when it is not rewarded. The video of Kevin Bridges cites one proposal our current government thought was an excellent idea. I think it is abhorrent.

      Thanks for commenting. I’m always glad to know what others think. It helps with my perceptions too. Especially when from a different culture. x

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  2. Not all should be doctors but we could all be patients. 🙂
    Inequality will not be eradicated but it could be minimized through the concerted efforts of society in general. It’s a very complicated process though.

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    1. The process may be complicated but the idea is simple. As you say, it is something we are all responsible for when we choose to undervalue some while overvaluing others.
      I always recollect a time in the seventies when the refuse collectors went on strike to gain a wage increase. Piles of rubbish lay scattered everywhere. Rats were roaming freely all over it. The army was called in to deal with the backlog. As young as I was at the time I remember thinking that we really didn’t value the role these workers played in our lives. I started to think who we could ‘do without’ and it certainly wasn’t the ones who manned the everyday workings of society.
      Often it’s not until we do without a section of the workforce that we realise their worth. 😉 x

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      1. When discipline is absent, anything will be a difficult task. In my country. inequality is prevalent and it will not vanish because people becomes indifferent. We accept it as a way of life and the powers-that-be controls it to their advantage. Yes, there will always be inequality anywhere in the world. We should only strive to lend a helping hand to those that need our help the most, ever time. 🙂

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  3. Anne-Marie- astute and to the point, as always. The lack of developed work ethic (for many of the reasons you state) is a major concern everywhere. Especially when our values have become so very skewed that athletes/coaches and celebrities are held up as exemplars of earning potential.
    Great post!

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    1. Thanks, Cole. It is worrying that children (and older youths) focus on those examples rather than aspiring to real jobs. The idea of giving back to society risks going right out of the window if the focus becomes so askew. Work needs to be rewarded to be valued.
      No wages for working in ‘Poundstretchers’! I ask you! x

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  4. A stimulating post, and I whole-heartedly agree with the points you made. You are correct when you talk about (many) of our politicians whose agenda is not for equality and the ‘greater good’, and society’s perception of ‘worth’ certainly is bizarre. As ever, a great read.

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  5. Hmm, I wonder where I come on the scale of things being a healer. I heal a troubled soul which then is in a much better place, which in turn can enrich their family, friends, work which then enriches those around them, and on and on it goes. That changed attitude gives them confidence to do more and different things which is given in all relationships including their work. This in turn elevates work performance and gives an increase to that employer. Reduces sickies from stress etc, and the overall picture is one of being more happier which in turn encourages those around them. Why isn’t the core issue of happiness and worth, which affects all that we do, being addressed from that direction which will create an equality, rather than what is now branded as such, as we all are different in our skills and our ability to use them. They have created a system of squabbling between ourselves to outdo one another in training for something, to maximise their output. Not interested in your burnout or where you are at, just get it done.
    I find that when I care for someone I gain trust and a situation where they feel they would like to repay me in some way, and gladly so. If an employer took that attitude and gave the employee’s an incentive (like a percentage of profits), it gives a sense of worth and appreciation for the sharing and trust given by the employer. Equality is then fully accepted because we realise that it takes all abilities to function as a whole and brings everyone together with a common cause. And the entire attitude is changed because they are now a part of it all. A completely different work ethic is obtained and I bet the profits would go through the roof! But totally from a different perspective! Self worth is a huge issue and if it is being addressed, everything changes! It gives confidence, an ability to serve from the right place, and a love of self because of it! Health, stress and any of those problems go out the door, the cost in that alone is staggering beyond belief!
    Mmm, you press one of those buttons again mommus? 🙂

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    1. Always good to press a few buttons. 🙂
      I wish some healing would take place at all levels. A greater enlightenment to the communal effort and contribution to the whole body. A much different perspective indeed. Start sending out those healing vibes, Mark. We’re gonna need them. 😉 x

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      1. I have watched his whole video a number of times now. Nearly peed myself laughing the first time. Then you miss so much laughing you have to watch it again. His accent is quite strong. But he’s brill. A bunch of us sat at Christmas and watched the whole thing. Much hilarity let me tell you. 🙂 x

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