I read this note on Facebook that I thought was fantastic. It made me think about something our teacher has been talking about in class a great deal that I have actually been thinking about quite often. I don't usually throw out judgements like this in writing, but anyone who says we live in a classless society is living underneath a rock:
What do we value? (this could also be titled "Who Do We Value?")
- We say we value education, that that's one of the most important parts of society. So why is everyone scrambling to cut teachers salaries, drop most or all of their health benefits, firing music and art teachers (and in places without state mandated physical education, phys. ed. teachers). Also, college expenses, in my opinion, are laughably ridiculous at this point (I'm sorry...$46,000 a year NOT INCLUDING books, meal plan, student medical insurance, or job certification costs.
- We say that we value care of those unable to care for themselves - but childcare workers get paid just above minimum wage (this is not including teachers in Montessori settings, who get paid a bit more), as do people who work as aids in hospitals, nursing homes, etc.
- We say that we value small businesses, but they have to buy their own health insurance and the health insurance of their staff and the government bails out big businesses that are failing so that the CEO's can get their big severance packages. This is also true of anyone the service industry (food service, shoppers assistants, secretaries or receptionists, janitors or maids, and how about snow removal?, etc.)
- We say that we value parenting, especially mothering (I mean GOD FORBID you ever do anything to make you a bad mother), but women get 6-12 weeks of maternity leave, get mommy tracked out of moving up the corporate ladder, and get all kinds of grief for taking days off or leaving early. And forget about any time off or help for the fathers. We also have a shockingly sparse range of services to help families with both the financial and emotional challenges of parenting.
- We say that we value a woman's right to pick whether she wants to stay at home or work, but working moms are "absent mothers" and stay-at-home mom's "don't do anything all day."
This is not solely a women's rights issue, which is usually the focus of this blog. But first of all, many women are affected by these issues. Also, it is a societal issue. As individuals and as a culture, I think that the time is ripe for a shift in consciousness. Our actions need to match our spoken values. We need to value the quality of life rather than success measured by wealth.
So what can you do, what can I do? You and I can't change their salaries tomorrow, but we can change how we interact with the people around us. Tomorrow, why not thank a teacher, be nice to the secretary that's helping you make an appointment at the health center (even if she's being grumpy) or the person that makes you food at the pub. She or he may not have a high profile job but they are providing a service that you would be VERY unhappy without!