Thursday, December 20, 2012

core values, core beliefs

Once upon a time, there were blood, sweat and tears -- a great effort the create and insure some way of being or institution or piece of equipment. Love, freedom, government, religion, automobiles and semi-automatic rifles.

Before the effort was completed, there was some faith and a lot of blood, sweat and tears.

But once the effort finds its resolution, suddenly the lifeblood of honest value is forgotten and a kind of lazy faith kicks in. Love is just par for the course, freedom is par for the course, religion is par for the course, automobiles and war are par for the course ... that's just the way things are ... no need to fret... these are matters of assumption and faith. There may be high praise, but praise is just air ... it is not blood, sweat and tears. It is not value.

Cheaper by the dozen
Those who expended blood, sweat and tears can grumble all they like ... still, the laziness of assumption is par for the course and honest value is replaced by languid and presumptuous belief. True in society, true in the mind, I think.

Now the U.S. Mint is considering ways to invest its coinage with more faith and less value:
A penny costs more than two cents and a nickel costs more than 11 cents to make and distribute. The quandary is how to make coins more cheaply without sparing our change's quality and durability, or altering its size and appearance.
If it looks the same and people believe it's the same, then it is the same ... and it costs less.

Love costs less, freedom costs less, government costs less, religion costs less, automobiles and semi-automatic rifles cost less.

Money, of course, is a demonstrable belief system. A $100 bill in the Brazilian rain forest may be an excellent tool for starting the evening cook fire, but otherwise has no value. And yet there is something dispiriting about having this shoved in our faces. It is demeaning to the value that arose from the initial blood, sweat and tears... the effort to dig the gold, perhaps, or win the love, or assure the freedom or create the government, or shape the religion or whatever. Just because something "looks like" something else does not mean it "is" that something else.

What is dispiriting, I think, is the lazy comfort anyone might take from his or her values. The blood, sweat and tears were tangible and telling in their time. But the resulting "value" cannot honestly be named except as a matter of belief. And how valuable is a belief outside its capacity to inspire blood sweat and tears?

How much of what anyone values is founded on some easy -- if occasionally ornate -- belief? Is this life of values nothing more than a fragile web of beliefs that can be tweaked and revised in order to make it cheaper, easier ... and requiring little or no blood, sweat and tears?

Core values, core beliefs -- yum, yum, yum. Someone, perhaps me, can get 'em for you wholesale.

Or, perhaps, there is always the undervalued blood, sweat and tears.

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