Is it fair to say that one profession or product is more honorable or prestigious than another?

Is it fair to say that one profession or product is more honorable or prestigious than another?

At first blush, it might be hard to argue against the common opinion that the eye surgeon creates more value than a hamburger cook.  After all, eye surgeons likely receive way more money for their services than cooks.   Does that make the job of the surgeon more honorable, more prestigious, more worthy of respect than that of the cook?

If indeed it does, then the mass of people living in the economy who are not surgeons, but are auto mechanics, truck drivers, gardeners, cashiers at the local hardware store, and cooks may feel a lack of self-respect at some level.

And, if this be true, then often in the common opinion, what others are willing to pay for a person’s product or service becomes a benchmark of what is considered the respect from others.

BUT, this does not always work.  Why? Because what if I am quite happy with my eyes, and have no perceived need for an eye surgeon?  However, at the same time I am ravenous, and massively desire a hamburger.  Won’t I be extremely grateful that someone, in their infinite wisdom has gone through the steps of making a lunch that when eaten, satisfies my craving?

If the cook is aware of this and strives to manage my craving in the best way possible, then indeed, the cook is worthy of recognition and respect.  If I am mindful of my role in the economy as a consumer of hamburgers, and am willing to pay the price of enjoying one, then I owe the cook my esteem and consideration.

We go through life living in an economy.  Here we play out our roles as producers and consumers.  At any point in time our urges, needs, desires, personal tastes and situations, call us to acquire the fruits of others’ time spent on the job and the products that result.  For what we want or can consume, we pay the price, usually in money.  This price normally will be determined by the intensity of the demand for this product, the perceived quality of the product, and ease or difficulty of having someone produce it.

This has nothing to do with prestige or honor.  It is simply a matter that you, I, or anyone else is willing to part with money and exchange it for what we desire from the economy.  Certainly, one tends to want the “good life”, and the common view is that those in possession of more money can more likely enjoy it.  We know that the medical alleviation of pain and suffering or the acquisition of recreational activities cost money.  Hence money becomes a goal in itself.  But this is not a question of prestige.  This does not naturally bestow honor on the products consumed or prestige on those who produce them.

What is the point of all this?  It’s the notion that when we live in our economy mindfully, we see professions and their products as fulfilling a multitude of desires, tastes, and needs.  Some of what we consume fill needs of the moment – a medical procedure or a necessary meal.  Others can be put off until later without excessive real damage – the purchase of a candy bar or two scoops of mint chocolate chip ice cream.  Given the enormous amount of energy, technologies and institutions developed over time to invent, produce, and deliver mint chocolate chip and eye surgeries, and given that both are very much desired at moments in time, do not both products deserve our respect and admiration?

I like to say that an important source of well-being comes from a feeling of belonging to this world.  This may be a tall order at times, but a nice starting point might be to see that no profession or work-product is more or less prestigious or honorable than any other.  Each product, from chocolate fudge ice cream and magazines on new automobiles to eye surgeries, is needed or desired by someone at some point in time.  We should be grateful that others have taken the time and energy to produce things like these.  This is a personal notion that increases the respect for all of the people around us who busily create things for us to use.



Related Posts