164. What is success and who defines it?
The interview I discussed in Twitteretter 161 got me thinking about success. In today’s society, we are evolving towards equating success with financial reward. Being richer means you are more successful. Money, a basic, blunt instrument we devised to represent the value of goods to allow their exchange, is becoming the tool we use to measure a person’s success. But success is not so simple. By this reductionist simplification, Van Gogh, for example, is hugely successful in death but was completely unsuccessful in life. I would argue that Van Gogh succeeded at creating exceptional works or art, his aim, but society failed at rewarding him justly for such achievement. And this illustrates the danger of oversimplifying, instrumentalising the concept of success. It means only achieving in some fields and certain ways is regarded as success by those who should recognise us and, as a consequence, many fundamental roles in society, such as nursing and teaching, languish forgotten and betrayed
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