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You only have power over people so long as you don’t take everything away from them. But when you’ve robbed a man of everything, he’s no longer in your power – he’s free again. ~Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

During the course of careers in entertainment and politics, both of which are centered around high name recognition individuals, I’ve become fascinated by the question of inherent human value, of why some people are treated like they matter more than others.

In a tabloid culture, an inordinate premium is placed on anyone rich or popular, the antics of celebrities and millionaires receiving more attention than the mortal struggles of innocent women and children.

The gap between fame and obscurity, wealth and poverty, power and powerlessness manifests itself most starkly in places like Washington, Los Angeles and New York, where jockeying for ‘importance’ and influence is a round-the-clock endeavor.  Being invited to the right party, getting the right seat at the right restaurant, getting name-checked in the right publication or seen with the right person is of paramount significance. Tinted windows and bodyguards and flashing lights are a tip-off that someone "matters."

America is based on the (noble) idea of equality, but principle and practice are two very different things and some people are treated more equally than others, with disproportionate privileges and prestige. This holds true across the planet.

Counterintuitively, the most important people in the world are those who have the least, those who are the most oppressed, those who suffer from preventable hunger and disease, those who are victims of the worst violence.

We are only as strong and powerful and important as the weakest link in the human chain. When a little girl is gang-raped, when a child wastes away from preventable hunger, when a man is silenced for his beliefs, when a woman dies needlessly in childbirth, when a little boy lives in agony from a preventable disease, we are all weakened, our worth diminished.

When the resources of the rich and famous are put to use to help those in need, it is because the highest moral calling is to give to others, to extend a hand to those who need one. It is then that we realize who matters most in this world: the core of moral power lies with those we derive moral power from.

Character is built on compassion and generosity of spirit. The most important person in the world is the one who most needs our compassion, care and generosity, the person who enables us to improve ourselves by helping them, who gives us value because we value them.

So with all the hobnobbing, backslapping, namedropping and idol-worshiping served to us by the media, with the dazzling displays of money and fame and power, let’s never forget who matters most.

Cross-posted here

Originally posted to Peter Daou on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:22 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well, I'll tell you this: (0+ / 0-)

    I am the most important person I know.

    Perfect ticket for GOP '12: Palin/O'Donnell.

    by commonmass on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:25:56 AM PDT

    •  I would truly hate to think you are serious? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but I fear you are. What a sad comment and if this is how people in America really feel no wonder this site has deteriorated to the degree it has sunk.

      •  That was snark, my friend. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ice Blue, soccergrandmom, Joieau

        Sometimes my snarkabellum overtakes my frontal lobe.

        People who know me know that I am fiercely egalitarian, and care about everyone. I'm sorry if I offended you, it was a lame attempt at humor.

        Perfect ticket for GOP '12: Palin/O'Donnell.

        by commonmass on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:35:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am SOOOOOO relieved to hear that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I am sure however you understand that it is becoming almost impossible to differentiate between reality and snark at this place anymore!!!! I was not insulted, I was appalled, because that remark could have been made in dead seriousness judging by several rec'd diaries in recent days.

          Have a good day.

          •  You do, too, my friend. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I have a group of Kossacks that I am personal friends with. We get together. We laugh. Yes, we snark, too. But I'll tell you, when the chips are down for one of us, we come together and help. Because at least the Kossacks I know are like that. It's almost like a secular church, in a way. I thought I was being funny, but now that I think of it, it was a highly uncharitable thing to even joke about, because it is SO not me.

            I want to thank you for calling me out on my poor taste and judgment. Because that's humanizing. And sometimes necessary. And I have a reputation to protect. Because I am a GOOD person. Thanks, soccergrandmom. And have a hug from me.

            Perfect ticket for GOP '12: Palin/O'Donnell.

            by commonmass on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:07:54 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The reason I stay at Daily Kos is exactly (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ice Blue, commonmass

              the same reason you articulate. I have made some wonderful friends, people I can rely on to call me out when my natural born (I am a born Brit!!!) cynicism and sarcasm takes over from my more compassionate side.

              There is a time and a season to be funny and sarcastic, and having just watched Stephen Colbert's hilarious and deadly serious sarcastic humour in his testimony to the Congress regarding the stupidity of America's anti immigrant phobia, I have full come to the realization that the next six weeks is perhaps the most crucial time the American people have faced since the start of WW2 and the debate over whether or not they should join in - we know that they did not until their own self interests were directly threatened.

              Well people, YOUR own self interest are being directly threatened if you allow the Republican Tea Party to take their country BACK.

              I will continue to come to Daily Kos as long as I can constructively put forward my own sense of proportion and morality and urgency, and receive the kind of response you had the grace to return instead of calling me a concern troll or worse.

              Have a wonderful day friends.

              •  WWII: (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ice Blue

                Some of my British family emigrated to the US, some to Canada, and some stayed home. Wolverhampton and Brierly Hill, to be exact (please, no jokes). After the war my British-born great-grandmother sent so many care packages to the cousins. I have the correspondence. It is priceless to me.

                It also has continued to be a cautionary tale, so to speak, about what a person's obligations are to one's family and friends. To see how excited someone was to get a pair of nylons.....little acts of kindness go a really, really long way.

                Perfect ticket for GOP '12: Palin/O'Donnell.

                by commonmass on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:32:54 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  It's in giving that we receive (7+ / 0-)

    Beautiful diary Peter.

    Thank you for the perspective.

    <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

    by bronte17 on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:40:55 AM PDT

  •  The concept of noblesse oblige... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ice Blue, buddabelly

    went out of favor a long time ago.

    If I show my support and enthusiasm for positive change, I create an environment that enables the change to be made even better.

    by Richard Cranium on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 08:31:47 AM PDT

  •  My thoughts tend in this direction (0+ / 0-)

    particularly in the weeks surrounding 9/11 when our ruling elite don their mourning shrouds to stoke the fear that binds us.

    Every moment of every day is 9/11 for someone: a mother and father standing by as the life support is removed from their brain-dead toddler; a sergeant and two corporals in their dress uniforms show up on a front porch on a beautiful fall afternoon; a daughter clutches the hand of her mother who struggles for one last breath; an old man returns from gathering wood to discover that his home has been struck from on high, his family, children, grandchildren, torn into unrecognizable strands and chunks of flesh...

    The worst failure may be the failure of imagination, and how mightily we are failing... - Kicking against the pricks since '98!

    by chuckvw on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 10:48:59 AM PDT

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