We are losing the ability to recognize the value of things

We are getting more and more to the point in which someone else has to tell us “what” is “important”, what to listen to, what to watch, what to eat, who to love…

La Justicia

In December 2000, in Havana, Cuba, I accompanied a man to the market. There the piles of rice and beans and other products were displayed loosely on the tops of tables. I observed him touching the grains of rice, smelling them and biting them to assess their value, the quality of the rice, and then asking the price.

For many years now in the United States, I have gone to the supermarket, picked out a bag of rice and paid for it assuming that the information on the label was accurate and the quality of that rice corresponded to the price I paid at the cash register.

It is a great advantage to count on a reliable market that regulates the price of goods, and it is excellent that we can have confidence in the reliability of these mechanisms and processes.

However, we cannot always assume that all things in life are going to work in this “economical” way.

For some aspects of our lives, we are left alone with our sensitivity, with only our own ability to determine the value of something, and to decide or recognize how important it is for us.

Shall we compile a list?

Let’s do it together:

  1. Food. We need to subsist to be able to exist. Yes! What kind of food? I think that it makes sense to assume that good food = good life. I include water in this topic. Air is ubiquitous, so we do not need (for now) to price it, although it is indispensable.
  2. Shelter. We need a place to live and feel safe. Same as food - better housing determines a better life.
  3. Here is where the problem begins! What is most important once we satisfy the basics of subsistence?

When societies were not as organized as our globalized world, and markets were not as efficient in valuing goods, people had a more responsive sense of value. Over time, this ability is going dormant as other people and mechanisms value things for us. It is good to count on such accurate and reliable mechanisms. It is not good at all that we lose completely our ability to value.