The Price of Everything...and the Value of Nothing
by Jon Kuhrt
first published on http://jonkuhrt.wordpress.com/
Again, thanks to everyone who has got involved with the campaign. If you are new to this please read the Open Letter to Ross Williams, like this on Facebook group and, if possible, make a call to Global Personals on 01753 271280 to raise your concerns about their adverts.
The right motives
I have been thinking about motives in relation to the campaign. Protesting involves conflict – because we believe that something is wrong and we want it changed. But when we engage in conflict, it can be hard to maintain the right motives because the desire ‘to win’ can override everything else. Pride and vanity crouch at the door – and never more so than when we are convinced we are ‘right’.
So despite the focus we are putting on Ross Williams in this campaign, its important to say that this is not about animosity towards him personally or any of his staff. Rather than disliking him, I see someone whose values are messed up. In an interview with The Times in 2009, Ross Williams said this:
“I have sports cars, a mansion, I’m learning to fly helicopters and I have a great lifestyle but I will make the real money when we sell the firm for £50m to £60m once I’ve created a business with real value.”
Real value. What ‘real value’ actually means lies at the heart of this whole thing. You see ‘real value’ does not consist in how much something costs, or how much we can make from it. When money does become the sole measure of value, society becomes cynical and twisted.
This is what Jessie J was getting at in her song Price Tag – its in my head as my kids have been singing it all summer:
“Seems like everyone’s got a price
I wonder how they sleep at night
When the sale comes first
and the truth comes second”
Deep down we know that true value is not about the ‘money, money, money’. Sure having enough money makes a big difference, but we know that the best things in life – love, friendship and family – cannot be bought or traded.
Definition of a cynic
And this is why we need to stop these marriage break-up adverts because they are about as cynical as possible because they are making money from ruining the best things we have. The adverts and Ross Williams’ quote are rooted in the same value system which perfectly matches Oscar Wilde’s definition of a cynic: Someone who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
Actually, real value comes from what we give to others – this is the true measure of our lives. For me, as a Christian, I believe that this is at the core of the teaching of Jesus' who said so much about the dangers of wealth and the importance of serving others. It is a ‘real value’ summed up well by Martin Luther King:
“Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve…You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love”
Our country does not need anymore cynical adverts which seek to make money out of the ruining whats valuable. We need more hearts full of grace, more souls generated by love. This is how we will build a society with ’real value’.
And, you know the best news? It’s never too late for Ross Williams to get on board…
Jon Kuhrt works with people affected by homelessness, offending and chronic addictions at the West London Mission. He, his wife and three children are part of Streatham Baptist Church and he is a member of the Christians on the Left. He likes football…but loves cricket.