THERE’S AN “US” VERSUS A “THEM”
This erroneous belief is one I struggle with, personally. I know we are all born equal, that all human beings are created from the same particles. And yet I only have to go outside my home and experience the vast inequality that our Society has artificially imposed on us. My personal bugbear is Money. Not the lack of it, not the use of it, simply the very fact that Society uses it as a yardstick by which to categorise people and measure their worth.
My father is a retired Dental Specialist, my mother a retired Teacher. Good, solid professions, that enabled my family to enjoy a relatively comfortable life. My brother is a Doctor. Again, a good career attracting a good salary. As for me, I’m very much the black sheep of the family. My father had high aspirations for me becoming a doctor too, like my brother. But I balked at the subjects required to study Medicine, and my grades were reflective of that. Back in those days, I was too naive to realise that you were actually allowed to change subjects in school; I was too worried about pleasing my father to even entertain the thought. So, for his only daughter, my father decided that a degree in Music would be best, seeing as I’d already endured 14 years of learning the piano. So, I was shipped off to the UK, where I surprised myself by being the only one in my class to obtain a First Class Degree. Which I subsequently never utilised, instead finding jobs as a temporary teacher, then a library assistant, a Civil Servant, and working in Customer Services at 2 banks in 2 different countries.
And now, after leaving my last job due to bullying by Management, I’m what Society would label as “unemployed”. My relatives all can’t understand why I can’t just “get a job”. My father says I have anger issues. My husband says I’m lazy. (He earns in 1 day what I was getting in an entire week in my last job, he really shouldn’t be complaining). Australian employers have very poor people skills; 99% of the jobs I’ve applied to never even bothered to acknowledge my application, or send me a polite rejection letter. My local McDonald’s even said I was too old to work there! Some people think I laze around the house all day doing absolutely nothing and watching daytime soaps on the idiot box. Others think I live the life of Riley, jetting about on holidays, buying lavish goods.
None of which is true. I read, I write, I make Art, I talk to people, I listen to inspirational tapes, I donate stuff, I give away things. None of which brings in any Money. And therein lies the rub. Western Society deems that anyone who doesn’t work and earn Money must therefore be Worthless. Society calculates your Worth based on how much Money you earn, not by what skills or expertise you can contribute. Therefore, a housewife is worth nothing. A CEO of a global company is worth millions. Some people even make themselves out to be far more important than they really are, by paying themselves huge bonuses and giving themselves paid for holidays abroad several times a year. We live in a screwed up world where material goods, which are external objects, are placed higher than knowledge and skills, which are internal. We are taught from a young age to go chase that dream…as long as it brings in lots of Money.
And so, whenever I step outside my house and observe how other people live, I notice these things: how nobody at the mall really sees the cleaning crew, who do their jobs as unobtrusively as possible, who keep their heads down and don’t engage with those who shop. Even the security guards are looked down upon, because theirs is a service job, to help and not to purchase goods. In fact, anybody in the Services industry, the ones behind the counter at the cafe, the wait staff, the cooks, they’re regarded as essentially not even being there, by paying customers. Their presence is hardly acknowledged, their efforts scarcely rewarded. It’s as if there’s an invisible veil that separates “Us” from “Them”.
What we don’t seem to realise is that the mirror works both ways. Your “Them” is my “Us”, and vice versa. It doesn’t have to be that way. Human beings should not be segregated into “Haves” and “Have Nots”, “Rich” and “Poor”. You are NOT what you do. You are NOT your designation at work. What you bring to the world, with your skills and knowledge, and with your acts of imparting such skills and knowledge, is what really counts. Not how much Money you earn, how big your house is, how many cars you own. Sadly, though, this erroneous thinking has led to Society splitting itself into illogical factions. It will take a giant tsunami of alternative thinking to turn this belief on its head and to show people that a life of cooperation and helping each other is really much better than a life of competition and one-upmanship.
Similarly, with Religion and Culture, there should be no “Us” and “Them”. There should be “We Together”, united as one human species. Let’s start somewhere, shall we?