Saturday, 23 August 2008

All for a better status

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The one thing that drives us all is “Status”. Despite all spiritual garbs we don, there are very few individuals today who don’t aspire to improve their status, on a day-to-day basis.

Status as defined by the concise Oxford dictionary is “relative social or professional standing; high rank or social standing”. The catch word for me in this definition is “relative” and that is what triggers the “rat race” for the “human race”. We want to be better off than our relatives, neighbors, colleagues and competitors. The word “Status” is a typical double bind. The urge for better status has caused the human race to progress and also given it untold misery. Inventions, discoveries, ideas and wars are all a result of the urge for better status.

The urge for better status has progressed mankind from “Stone Age” to “Silicon Age”. The dream of better status for his countrymen propelled Bapuji to lead the freedom struggle. At the same dream for better status in the eyes of Jinnah lead to a painful partition which has continued till date. The dreams of better status for his race lead Hitler to his Machiavellian designs. The dreams for enhanced status of the deprived society, lead Dr. BR Ambedkar to scripting our Constitution (he would have definitely decried the depths which reservations has reached today) The collective dream for better status made Japan a super power after the pounding it got during the Second World War. The dreams for a better status in the early 90’s lead to collapse of communism across the East block countries.

Individual performance is enhanced due to a need for better status. Management graduates from slums; Business corporations from sheds; Super athletes from utter poverty are all the results of the urge for a better status. Status by most of us (including me) is perceived as possession of maximum material things. To an extent it is the correct but not the entire picture. Our perception of status is best defined as “Buying things which you don’t require, with money you don’t have, to impress people you don’t like”. EMI is only an enfant terrible of the wedlock between “urge for status” and “consumerism”. This definition explains why our credit cards have perennial unpaid balance; houses are filled with things we don’t use; relationships are filled with invisible walls; society is riddled with crime and corruption. The “urge for status” forces us away from our families, friends, health, ethics and morals.

If the motivation for status can be streamlined, we could become world beaters and better both the society and ourselves. Otherwise we would be left a woes, worries and families on the brink of collapse. Such a situation is not desirable for the society. The million dollar question is how to streamline this desire and it is certainly not by desiring less. Answering this question, would require another blog.

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