A very interesting and somewhat scary reality is the perception of value. What scale or standard do we use in order to perceive value, what tools do we use in order to create this perception or understanding?
Whether we are valuing things or beings, we’ve built some standard, some sort of scale to base our value upon.
Just 100 years ago and debatably even still, people valued certain people as less based on ethnicity, class, or skin color; which we now know is completely wrong.
This is such a broad topic that can become very philosophical but let us start simply with how we value things.
From my observations, I’ve noticed our society values things based on monetary worth. Either how much money this certain thing cost or the potential profit it has.
I first realized this when watching the way people use water.
It is amazing how much water people waste when they are washing dishes. When I address to people about the scarcity of clean water around the world and how so many people suffer from diseases and illnesses related to water issues, people generally have a hard time truly understanding the situation because of how cheap water is here in America and how unlimited it seems.
And that is the issue, water seems to be basically free. There are free drinking water stations in almost every public space. There are free showers at the beach. Free bathrooms with running water. We even flush every single toilet with water clean enough to drink.
But the reality around the world is, people don’t have that same luxury.
The water we use to flush our waste is much cleaner than water many use to quench their thirst.
My point is this: how do we value water? Is it the right way to value it? And do our perceived values of water align with our actions and use of water?
But not just water, substitute water with anything else.
How do we value our clothes? The food we eat? The cars we drive? How do we value our furniture? Our daily luxuries?
Just because my shirt may cost very cheaply, does that mean it’s value is cheap? Let’s consider how much work and resources it took to make our clothing. The cotton that was grown by the farmers, the machinery that was built to turn the cotton into cloth, the workers that made the clothes the way they look, the stores that were made to sell them.
Let’s consider how many hands have touched the shirt from the cotton on the farm until it is put into your hands at the register.
The systems of processes that are used to create everything we use on a daily basis is mind blowing. Even something as simple as oil has a complex system with high machinery in order for the olives, sunflowers, safflowers, or palm to become the oil we cook with.
Because of convenience we've lost our perspective and insight into the reality of what is around us and used by us. Our reality is only a small slice of what the world experiences daily.
Let us readjust our standards and scales of value. Let’s see beyond the surface of monetary worth and see things for what they truly are.