I've been thinking quite a bit lately. Specifically, I've been spending time pondering the ideas of free will, mental construct, perspective, choices, how learning happens, value, honesty, and how these all relate. On that note, I promise this will be light reading, don't be scared.
Let's talk about mental construct and perspective, these go hand in hand. Perspective is essentially the lens you view the world through; the judgements you are likely to make dependent on past experiences and social pressure (i.e. this person is pretty, they must be nice. That person wears american flag parachute pants, they must be uneducated and shop at Walmart). Now, a mental construct is more tricky, it has more to do with personal experiences, character and a belief structure. Contrast person A who is likely to lend a friend twenty bucks and generally believes people are trustworthy with person B who distances themselves emotionally because they've been hurt one too many times and generally believes people cannot be trusted. Two opposing lenses/perspectives, significantly different mental constructs and gut reactions when presented with the same situation. (Behaviorism yes, tho I will allow that it is rarely this cut and dry.) Without knowing much about a person, it is interesting how much is understandable by studying their typical reactions to things. In most cases, without waiting for proof or result, we all react according to our mental construct. So what do your typical responses say about you? Honesty with yourself is key, yet is supremely challenging.
Now let's switch to the question of value. To be honest I've been stuck on this idea lately. Not the idea of how much value something has, but where it is one garners value from. Let's talk in examples. I am a bartender, and have worked in the service industry for approximately ten years. In relation to the American Dream, I am not that high up on the food chain. No way to climb a corporate ladder, become an expert of my field, I don't make tons of money, barely have health insurance and job security...actually I am in one of the more demeaning industries; anyone can do my job. Despite this, I find value in my work. To answer the question of how much value my job has, I couldn't judge - there is probably jobs out there I am better suited for. So where does the value come from? Specifically for me it would be social interaction with a wide audience and a certain element of flexibility and challenge. This is an exercise in answering the question 'why.' I think it is a great way to learn about oneself and others.
Now comes the tricky part; how do people relate to their value system. I think it stems from history and mental construct. There is a heavy influence here from our survivalist nature. But the interesting part is that values and perspectives are choices, and therefore are learned. As in the case of Pavlov's dog, the more a person is exposed to something (without further input or consideration) the more their reaction will become fossilized (to use a term from my grad readings). Not that this is unchangeable; arguably a person with an open mind, aka willing to entertain the whys of opposing perspectives in relation to their mental construct, could end up changing their value structure.
These thoughts inspired me to make one of my first successful abstract pieces.
With this in mind, where is your value?