How Do We Define value

Responding to Reena challenge #105. Write a piece using the phrase ” only if I knew it then”

Only if I knew it then.

I was never good at economics. I always went for people over monetary considerations. Where other people would see dollar signs I would see a person in need. I was content with food and shelter……and perhaps a few books. I married and found another kind of existence. My wife would assign a value to household goods that we were willing to sell on and I would debate and then give them away for free. How do we define value?

Some children of wealthy parents are expected to follow a certain path. It’s the child’s choice. Conform and follow the path or be a starving artist and suffer the consequences. The path of economic stability always wins out. How do we define value?

An ancient oil painting is valued at $100 million, a movie star’s mansion is valued at $50 million, a subway stop- about a ten minute walk-is valued at $2 billion, army and defense $ untold billions. Yet people are homeless, live in tent cities, have addiction problems etc. etc. etc. How do we define value?

I was reading Charles Bukowski ” The Post Office” an interesting book, definitely not great literature. He always felt that he needed to bring sex into a book for publication. You could tell in later life he regretted this, but at the time he felt this held great economic value and so he gave in to the economic gods. How do we define value?

We are all trying to survive the best way we can. People with dollar signs in their eyes seem to have the most material comforts. Others who see a different path struggle to survive. Who has the most value, the corporate elite, political elite, YouTube bloggers, movie stars, the 1%, the 99%, starving artists and the list goes on. How do we define value?

What do we consider a life well lived? Following our dream, family get togethers, material wealth, exploration of the soul, survival at all costs. How do we define value?

Only if I knew it then…….. I would still choose people over monetary considerations.

For what does it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?

Mathew 16:26-27

Published by lensdailydiary

Born Stepney, London, England. Emigrated to Canada. Married, two children, six grandchildren. Retired. Conservative and cultural catholic. LOVE soccer. Tottenham Hotspur. Read historical and fantasy fiction..

27 thoughts on “How Do We Define value

  1. Another interesting question. For me, without doubt, value is a blend of things. But what blend? What things? Personal Happiness? Sure. But when my personal happiness harms others? So there’s some limit there. Money? No, not really. Money enables nice things, that’s it. Most of what I want, I already have, so I don’t need much money (just as well!). See the world? Drive a fast car? Sure, but again, just enabled by money. And if our goal *is* just money, we’d probably never have children. So, a mix.

    Changes with time, too. Relationships and memories are far more important to me now than they were as a teen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish more people felt as you do, Len. In a world of growing income inequality, I find it difficult to understand people whose need for material gain knows no limits. Seems to me the all-consuming emphasis on money and all it can buy demonstrates an emptiness of spirit—an absence of values.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Market value is the amount a market is willing to pay. Sadly, it fluctuates and leads to the downfall of institutions. Intrinsic value should be more consistent, but is of little importance to the economy as a whole.

    In a Hindi movie called Trishul, the protagonist buys a building for XXX amount. The seller says after the deal is closed.”You don’t understand business. I would have reduced the price by 10%.” The buyer says “It is true about you. I would have paid more for this building. My mother toiled as a construction worker here, and I’m gifting this to her today.”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. We define values according to our perceptions and what we think is right and when others don’t agree with us we feel frustrated.
    Loving people and helping them needs money so a balance is always appreciated.


    1. Thanks for commenting Indira. It’s always nice if people with wealth use some of it to help those who don’t know how to create it. I don’t know if it necessarily follows that you need money to love people and want to help them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You can love without money but where you have to purchase even drinking water without earning yourself how can you feed one. Only love is not enough. Every body comes with a big stomach. There is so much poverty in my area that even if I give my whole pension I can’t feed them so I go for solution. Donate ever I can to some good NGOs .
        You are right people with wealth should help others. But they help by giving employment, buying artwork etc. If they donate all and become one of the poor will it help. Balance is the key, is what I think.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. I like the way you laid out your rationale step by step, Len. The scramble for wealth has never been a goal of mine, as you can never reach the top of the heap. Think of all of that effort, and there will still be someone with more. That said, to try to categorize things by the designation of value or not valued, my mindset is to avoid duality if at all possible, even though my mind has to make decisions of “this” or “that” on an ongoing basis. If we couldn’t choose we’d be paralyzed. It’s a paradox really, maybe I’ve just given myself a subject to write on for Reena’s new prompt 🙂


  5. Profound. How does anything gets its value? Is it the value of the good itself or the perception? Is it real or resemblance? Even people savvy in economics get it wrong so many a times. It’s a balance I hope for. 🙏


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