Status – not all that it seems? #ramble
It’s Sunday morning and so once again I am going to ramble and give you a glimpse into my mixed up mind. What’s on my mind this week? Yes, it is things that aren’t all that they seem. Quite often, I think, this is not what it seems. People’s motives aren’t always what they say they are. You might think that new block saved drive is to drive the car on but is it? A slab of concrete or a tarmac drive would be easier to maintain and cheaper. Block paved drives look better, though. The real reason for that new drive is to show off a status symbol. Then you need a shiny new car to put on it. Why is status so important to us?
Today’s picture is of the balcony in the town hall. It is a little grander than a block paved drive don’t you think? Making the town hall quite grand was, in Victorian times, a statement. It was a way of telling the people that it was the centre of power. Buildings are often designed to intimidate people. This week, a young mother died in a family court possibly as a result of the stress brought on by that institutionalised intimidation. Many aspects of our lives are stressful because of intimidation. We need to make all the public places we go to friendly and inviting. Shopping has become more of a pleasurable experience as stores try to compete with online shopping. Perhaps our town halls, civic centres, courts and job centres should be more user-friendly too. We need less emphasis on status and more emphasis on equality. We need to make tarmac drives fashionable. Well, maybe not. There must be a type of drive that is easy to maintain and looks good too as well as being affordable?
I live in Wednesbury and we have a Victorian art gallery and that too is a rather grand building next to the town hall. Three miles away is the newish Walsall art gallery that is losing some of its funding but still gets a huge grant from the Arts Council. The Walsall gallery has prestigious exhibitions and openly talks of winning the Turner prize. Wednesbury gets little funding and has little exhibitions of photos and prints. Wednesbury only opens three afternoons a week while Walsall opens nearly every day and importantly on a Sunday. Donald Trump, envious of the economic success that China has is saying America first. I am tempted seeing the success that Walsall has to say Wednesbury first. Should we be envious of the success that others have? Nah, I don’t think so! We should have more confidence and try to get our share of art grants for Wednesbury, so our gallery can open on a Sunday too. We might have to improve the status of the Wednesbury gallery or at least people’s perception of its status to get that grant, though.
What is status? We think of it as our level in society. It is a perception of our success. Do a block paved drive and a new car symbolise success? Does winning the Turner prize really symbolise success for an art gallery? As people, we should see happiness as a success. Does a block-paved drive with a new car sitting on it symbolise happiness? What is seen as a success for an art gallery? Is it just winning a prestigious prize? I think success for an art gallery would be reaching the people it serves and engaging with them. Can we engage with our neighbours? Be there for them in times of trouble and say good morning when we see them? Isn’t that better than showing off with a block paved drive and a new car? Isn’t real status about relationships and building bridges. There was a campaign recently with the slogan build bridges; not walls. Maybe we can gain real status and real recognition by building bridges with people and with other communities and cultures.
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