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Geoff Peters from geoffmobile.com gives a short speech on how he believes that people should find meaning and comfort in the daily tasks of work, rather than in the conspicuous display of wealth.
Filmed at the Sauder School of Business, Vancouver BC Canada, March 8 2016.
Shoes – a short speech to give to a public speaking club – by Geoff Peters
I have set a task to polish and spray my new shoes every two weeks. It takes me about 10 minutes to clean them, polish them, and spray them with a waterproof spray. The process does not give me joy but I feel good the next day when I go outside and my shoes are gleaming and look brand new. Can we get confidence from physical things such as the clothes or shoes that we wear?
Can our self-esteem be tied to physical things that we do or own, or the wealth that we may conspicuously display? I think that for many people, this is the case. For example, why do people buy Lamborghini cars that cost as much as an apartment? I think it is to help improve their self image, to impress others, or to prove to themselves that they are worth something, worthy of existence.
There was an ad on a billboard for an Acura SUV that says that the SUV is a way of breaking free of conformity. Does driving an expensive and environmentally unfriendly vehicle express one’s creativity or their ability to stand out from the crowd?
I think that people who have money should use it however they feel, but in a capitalist society it is increasingly the case that a few people have too much money whereas the middle class or lower class are treated very unfairly with a very poor lifestyle and quality of life.
It seems to me that wealth should be more fairly distributed and that people who work hard should be fairly rewarded for their hard work. But won’t robots just do all the work some day, so we don’t need to define hard work as a requirement for a successful life?
When machines are doing all the labour, what will people do? Are we designed as working agents? Will everyone be bored if all there is is amazing food, and an endless stream of entertainment on Netflix?
Doing a simple task as polishing my shoes is a grounding feeling that connects me with the leather that envelops my feet, and a renewal of the instruments that connect my body with the earth. I think we should take pride in the ordinary routines of our lives, and feel good about the little spaces on the earth that we are able to carve out and have comfort inside. As for me, I’m not giving up on the idea of work bringing meaning to my life, just yet.