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Absolute or relative value

Is our value absolute or relative? Is it a constant, despite our flaws and struggles, or something we have to work ourselves up to? And, does that value only lie in other people recognising it, understanding us, seeing our worth, and making space for us within their own existence? If others don’t appreciate who we are, does that mean our value’s not then a reality?

It’s something I find intriguing because, theoretically, someone could be bringing something immensely valuable to life while all those around them see it as nothing. If we only see, recognise or appreciate that which we know and understand (Notes One), then it’s entirely possible that many excessively worthwhile things might simply be passing us by.

And, finding this in equal parts fascinating and fundamental, it’s something I’ve already touched upon a few times (Notes Two): these ideas of human worth, social relationships, communication, and the attitudes with which we approach other people. Do we value people rightly? Are we viewing others mainly in terms of how they compare to us, ways they might assist us, and so forth? Does it matter how we view other people?

Surely, it’s fundamental to life? How we relate to one another, the worth we assign each human life, “is” this foundation on which both society and personal existence are built: this world of meaning that, hopefully, guides our behaviour and gives our lives purpose (Notes Three). To me, everything in life holds meaning and all our actions are “saying something” on that level about the value of what we see around us.

Often, though, it seems we’re tending to view things in that relative sense of “what things mean to or about us” rather than looking to the absolute meaning of any given thing, then relating ourselves to that. Is it an important distinction? That’s perhaps for us to decide.

It must make a difference? If we’re using ourselves as the benchmark – evaluating everything against our own experiences, identity and choices – then we’re presumably judging many things, criticising, labelling as wrong, or perhaps attacking in the hope they’ll come around to our way of thinking. What does that create socially or in terms of communication? What’s the interpersonal atmosphere that’s creating?

This post is seeming more exploratory than some, perhaps because I’m unsure what exactly I’m grasping for. Is it this sense of judgement? The ways we’re evaluating one other and seeing difference as something to be conquered? Is the concept of “overcoming” our differences a picture of “one viewpoint eliminating the other” or a picture of expanded awareness where differences all have their place?

As ever, there aren’t easy answers: life’s complex with much to be resolved (Notes Four). It’s just that, for me, part of that seems to lie in acknowledging the complicated truth of our personal and collective lives. Things impact us all, imperfection’s pretty much baked in at this point, yet somehow it seems important to see how, beneath that, there might be absolute value.

Notes and References:

Note 1: Seeing, knowing and loving
Note 1: Counselling, listening & social identity
Note 1: The way to be
Note 2: Relating to one another
Note 2: Value and worth in our relationships
Note 3: The power of understanding
Note 3: Do we need meaning?
Note 3: This thing called love
Note 4: The dignity & power of a human life
Note 4: Dealing with imperfection

Other ideas about the worth of life and the challenges we face were the focus of both “The Measure of a Man” and Finding flaws.

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