What do you value? What do we value? Why isn’t it the people who actually have the hardest jobs?
Why are nurses, teachers, care workers and many more professionals who have to deal with real turmoil on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, with real people, not valued as much by our economy as say, graphic designers, bankers, software developers, ‘reality’ tv stars, certain ‘influencers’ ?
I can’t lie and say that I was thinking about this question with some empathetic review of society or personal sole searching, nor did it happen overnight as I have been working . It’s certainly been brought about by Covid, and the outpouring of love for the NHS felt by all in these difficult times.
I think, and hope, some really big ideas can come out of the nightmare of a pandemic.
I really hope we can start to value things differently.
If you want to know how big ideas work in 4 minutes, watch this really quite delightful video, created by the Royal Society for the Arts in the UK.
I’ll attribute this post’s thinking to two people.
My friend (and former big boss) Amos Meiri, and a nurse, who at the time, worked in the blood cancer ward at the Royal Liverpool Hospital.
“Why do nurses and teachers get paid the least? Think about it, it’s crazy.”
A conversation highlight of mine (at a juice kiosk on the corner of Alenby St/Montefiore St, Tel Aviv, 2018'ish)
I think that conversation alone kick-started some thinking that was mixed with some other slow hunches I and many, many others have got, around how money is exchanged, who gets paid the big bucks, and why various (and most) societies, through austerity, and other historic injustices or manipulations of power and capital has created a world, which is becoming more messed up, for more people.
And the idea is we exponentially grow it. 👀
Our system, the planet, is telling us this is a bad idea, think Australian bush fires or the news in the last 12 months about the largest X (temperature, flood, hail storm, sandstorm) on record in your local area.
Our other protection system, really smart humans, 11,000 of them are telling us climate change is a really pretty serious. “Untold Suffering.”
I can thank Douglas Rushkoff and some of the amazing guests on the Team Human podcast for getting me to think about this stuff a lot more than maybe I would of, I think for the sake of my lad, and the children of all of us, we need to.
Well before that chat with Amos, I spent some time with a nurse from the Royal. For anonymity’s sake — and the protection of her credibility (no one wants to admit to having been on a few dates with me) — let’s say her name was, Felurian.
“Well, it’s blood cancer, and my ward is for people really struggling so they are with us for a while.
So there’s a fair few people I look after who pass away.”
That really is putting it mildly.
Safe to say I was humbled.
Around then, I spent my time in an office with a fusball table, having a couple of trips to Europe each year, making stupid videos for Sport Relief and generally having, comparably, very, very little stress.
At the time, I was probably (i have no idea about her salary) earning at least 25% more than the NHS was paying. And I had a, comparatively, easy job.
4–5 years later, when I had an actual salary for the first time in ten years, it must have grown to be much more of a difference in earnings per year.
So at the same time we had mortgage brokers working really hard to cause the (now, second-) largest economic crash in the 21st century, and all easily earning $100,000’s per year.
We had Felurian, slaving away building long term care relationships knowing that, for about a quarter of them, this will probably be their last few months on earth.
I didn’t know, and couldn’t understand how she carried such a positive, happy demeanour, and was just an all-around lovely person.
In the context of the conversation I had with Amos, and reflecting on spending time with her, and now living through a crisis, it seems to me that we are, maybe, finally, starting to look at the world and what we value a little differently.
It might be you who needs some fabulous care one day. I think we are all now sharply realising that.
Wouldn’t you want the best care, from well looked after, valued, relaxed, motivated, happy individuals, who go to work every day with a special sense that they are a key part of a society that truly values every minute they spend caring for others?
I won’t go too far into the teaching proffesion, but any parents reading this, with even just one child to manage at home — imagine if you had 30 of them, all together, in a small classroom, every day, day in, day out, 5 days a week.
So luckily I recovered from the virus (fingers crossed for some of those liberating and life defending anti-bodies), I am 95% sure I had Covid-19, and I have had some time to think.
I also now have a massive amount of time, to get lots of work done as a knowledge worker in our economy.
I really do understand how lucky I am to be in that position, and I want to spend the time wisely for the benefit of others and hopefully myself and my family.
I hope I can write a follow up to this in three months and feel like I really tried to help in some way to give back to a society that has, overall, favoured me over others, who I think might just be undervalued given the stress, monotony and low wages faced by many in healthcare and education.
I hope that, but the only thing that will really make me happy is if a hell of a lot more people start to feel valued and appreciated by the society they live in.
With people saying hello to people as they walk by each other, on streets without traffic, a relaxed atmosphere, with both having a sense of purpose, a sense that people believe in them, a sense that if they fail, or circumstances dictate you are having a rough time, and need a break from life, from us, it’s ok, we’ll be here for you, and if you fall, don’t worry we as a modern society will pick you back up again, and look after you.
Wouldn’t that be nice?
I think so.
I am working on a project that hopefully can assist local economies to be more prosperous and start to level the playing field for entrepreneurs, small businesses and most importantly, everyday people.
If you would like to learn more about viewing the world differently for the benefit of us all, I highly recommend Rutger Bergman’s book Human Kind.
Post was edited, sense checked, published and all around made 100% better by my friend and colleague Zarino Zappia! Thank you :)