These days, people are obsessed with a variety of different things. One thing that has always absorbed society is the topic of employment. Where you work, how much you make, and how prestigious your job is greatly influences your place on the totem pole, and for many people, their happiness. And how could it not? Without money there is very little that we can do nowadays, especially in industrialized countries where your capital directly correlates with your worth. In the eyes of the system that is. So we have a massive rat race, with people constantly competing against each other to see who can make the most money and have the nicest things. Occupation has always been an important issue throughout history, but it used to be that, along with the money, there was a certain amount of pride that came with it. People would dedicate their lives to say, shoe making, and put in quality time and effort so that their shoes were the best in all the land. Whatever happened to that? I mean, we still have some (a shrinking amount it seems) people that operate that way, but finding quality work like that has become almost a taboo. Why do you think sites like Angie’s List have become so popular? Things have just become jumbled up into some huge money-whore operation, where cheaper is better and short term results will do rather than investing in long term quality.
But with the pyramid-like hierarchy of ownership and connections, causing few having much, where does that leave everybody else? Not everybody can hold the prestigious jobs that are glorified in our society. Somebody has to clean the buildings, serve the food, and do all of the other not-so-nice things that the rest of us can’t be bothered with. Even more so, what about those who have no choice in what they are to become? I recently watched a documentary by the name of Whore’s Glory by director Michael Glawogger. It shows the lives of prostitutes in three different cultures: Thailand, Bangladesh, and Mexico. One of the things that struck me was how many of the girls that were interviewed did not have a choice in becoming what they were.
In one scene from Bangladesh, a young girl is sold from one Madame to another, and they haggle over her price like you would argue the price of fruit at the market. In the interview, when asked how they felt about their occupation, one girl begins to cry as she tells the story of how her mother sold her into prostitution so that she could feed the rest of the family.
The truth is that much of what we pride ourselves in we had no choice over. Family wealth and social status, even the very body we walk around in- was simply the luck of the draw. Of course, the wealth that you accumulate in your own lifetime and how you care for your body is up to you, but you get the picture.
My point is that we shouldn’t put so much emphasis on how we get our money and more importance on what it is we are in life, what we dedicate ourselves to, what we pride ourselves in, that is more important. A person could be a cashier at a fast food place for instance, but in their spare time be an artist with aspirations of greatness with the likes of Picasso and Monet. Or a janitor who secretly wishes to be a journalist, down in the trenches of war-torn countries uncovering secrets and bringing awareness to worthier causes than what celebrities are wearing. We are more than how we earn our money, we are all feeling, thinking, passionate individuals with goals and dreams. Everyone should get the chance to pursue those passions, and to not be judged by what paths they had to take to get there. Without those paths, whether they be rocky and treacherous or paved in gold, we wouldn’t have the unique perspective that make us who we are at this very moment. And who we will become one day.
In fact for some, those treacherous paths are what assisted them in reaching the heights of success that they have today. Here are some of the greats (and my personal favorites) that we can learn a thing or two from.