In our culture we seem to put a great deal of importance to intelligence. But is that the greatest human attribute? Certainly intelligence has enabled us to develop science and technology as well as solving many of the problems the universe has thrown at us. But it has also created weapons that have killed millions, wiped out whole species and tyrannised. Intelligence has created ways of being mean, cruel and plain nasty.
We also value hard work and application.
We value creativity in all its many forms.
We reward strength and physical skill.
We are moved by oratory.
We are rocked by musical skills.
We put a lot of emphasis on beauty and physical perfection.
We like the ability to solve problems.
We value sexual prowess.
We appreciate humour.
We like people who exude confidence and authority.
We greatly admire and bow to leadership qualities.
In the past we maybe valued bravery more.
Piousness used to be considered one of the greatest attributes.
Reliability is thought important.
But no I do not think any of these are the greatest attributes despite the way our society rewards these attributes. The highest paid people in our world are the politicians, leaders of companies, entertainers, bankers, sportsmen and women, musicians, models, film stars, comedians and artists. The people who display many of the attributes above. Somehow I do not think this is right. The huge rewards for those attributes seems wrong to me. Have we got our priorities wrong?
At school, a long time ago, there was a class I taught which was quite a handful. There were a number of highly intelligent people and a lot of great athletes and musicians. But one day we were all talking and they decided that the most valuable member of the group was a lad who was probably the least intelligent and most useless at sport or creativity. He was a big uncoordinated dopy looking guy. But he always had a big smile, would do anything to help anyone and was the most friendly congenial person you could ever hope to meet. If you were in trouble you knew he would be there to help. He had more important qualities. He might not have been clever, good looking, highly skilled in anything, but he certainly had something.
No – for me the most important human attributes are centred around caring, compassion, empathy, respect and that willingness to help others.
It seems strange to me that the professions that display these qualities – nursing, social care, teaching, fire-service, environmentalists, farmers and others – are ones that are not well rewarded or held in great esteem.
I would ask once more – have we got our priorities right?