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Allan's Philosophy Podcast

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Philosophy on Facebook # 22 - Appreciation is a Relative Concept

Hey guys so if you haven't check out my first video podcast you should!! I recorded it with my flip video player so the quality isn't as great as I'd like it to be but for a first run through I feel like we did a good job. Hopefully through Skype and oovoo I can get other people involved in this podcast and get a wide variety of perspectives.

As for this note, I wanted to talk about people's expectations and what they appreciate. Maybe appreciation isn't the best word that encompasses this topic but I feel like it does justice. I got the inspiration for this topic when I was sick and was wondering why bad things happen in the world. I was wondering why we just couldn’t be healthy all the time and not have to be miserable during the times our immune system is fighting diseases. After contemplating this I realized that we need these downers to give purpose to our lives. Whenever something bad happens it makes us reflect on times when things were better and realize how great they were. It can also inspire hope that future events will be better than the current ones. Everybody takes things for granted. Whether it is subconscious or not, there is something that we never consider how much importance it holds in our lives and what we would do if we ever lost it or it changed. They can be everyday commodities whose existence can be imperative to how we live our lives. Just think of anything that you regularly use like on a daily basis and just try to imagine how you would live without it. Sometimes its impact is miniscule, but other times they play a major role in your lives that can cause sadness if you were to lose it all of a sudden. Based on society today, if somehow we were to lose our beloved gadgets like cell phones, we wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves and realize how important it was to us. With Lent occurring as I write this, one of the benefits of giving up something during this time period is being given the opportunity to know what it is like to not have something that you hold dearly but may not fully appreciate its impact in your life. To the opposite effect, if something never impacted you life then you will not miss what you never had.

Unless some omnipotent being decides to take away your cell phone it is usually hard to take away what is already in place. Humans can be very stubborn and because of things like fear of change, they refuse to give up what brings them comfort, at least not without a fight. They are very reluctant to change because of the instability it could bring unless it promises benefits. Usually the only welcomed changes are those that can cause improvement. However, this improvement has to be noticeable to those being affected or they will never agree to give up something if they believe parting with it will negatively impact their lives. When the government enacted prohibition, the citizens of the United States were in uproar over the fact that they lost their legal rights to drink alcohol. They obviously had an appreciation for alcohol or else they wouldn’t have fought so hard to make it legal again or continued to drink it regardless of the legal implications. Another example is trying to make things previously free now have some monetary value attached to it that you're required to pay to utilize or own it. If something was once free and then all of a sudden cost money, the people who took advantage of the lack of a price would be outraged. This is because they felt entitled to the product once the companies who gave it away put it into the consumers brains that they could have that product for free and that it was their right to have it for free. Once this supposed "right" that the consumers have when the product is free, is taken away by making it cost money, it incites the inner appreciation people had for it and causes them to revolt against this change. In the cases where change promises benefits, it leads people to do very drastic things because they hold an appreciation for the potential that the future can yield happier circumstances. These drastic measures occur because those people aren't satisfied with their current situation. In the case of the pilgrims, their religion wasn’t appreciated by England, therefore causing them to trek the Atlantic Ocean in hopes of a new land where their beliefs would be appreciated and not scrutinized.

Material things aren't the sole things that can be appreciated or taken for granted of like with the religious example above. Concrete things aren't the only things people don't have full appreciation for as abstract concepts like success would be meaningless without their counterparts. If you always accomplish whatever you set your mind to then its impact would be less than if you experienced struggles and failures along the way to its completion. While yes it is good to succeed, it doesn’t hold meaning or real value to you unless you know what failing feels like. Not only does failing provide a learning experience to improve off your mistakes, it also adds value to those things that you do succeed in reaching. If you don't get a job, then the next job you apply for and get feels a lot more fulfilling knowing you had to work for it and knowing the progression you make from a bad situation into a better one. If you are a kid born with a silver spoon in your mouth who is born into a world of luxury and riches you will probably enjoy life but you won't get the same feeling of success as much as a rags to riches situation. If you were born in a bad situation you can relate to others that are in similar circumstances and you can also experience the great feeling inside or knowing you made it. If you never had a bad situation then you can't provide any basis or foundation for what a good time is. This is where the relative concept comes into play. You can get a pretty good idea for what success is by relating yourself to your peers like if you got an A on a test and your friend got an F you can weigh the different factors that played a role in your outcome versus your friend's less than stellar outcome. Perhaps you got lucky, but most likely you worked hard studying and your efforts can be seen through your actions and how well you did on that test. The media also does similar things where they advertize and make apparent the great lives and successes that celebrities have. It can make average people jealous and makes them want more while not appreciating the things the currently have. Just remember the next time you feel the need to buy something new, whatever it may be, just realize that there is always someone out there who is in a worse off situation than you are and perhaps that will make you appreciate the things in your life more.

-Allan Nicholas

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