Don’t you love how mundane, often rather simple, professions attempt to elevate their importance by taking on a fancy name. People are easily fooled and impressed by words.
Someone that puts powder on the face of people, before they appear on television, is now called a make-up artist”. People that file and polish nails are now “nail technicians”. A hairdresser (for women) and barber (for men) can now call herself or himself a “hair designer” or “hair stylist”.
German is more precise and less malleable. A Visgsist/Visagistin (mail/female version) applies make-up; a Friseur/Friseusin does hair; and a Manicure does nails.
Everyone should be familiar with that tired line: two countries divided by a common language. Another way in which the United States and United Kingdom differ is the way in which their societies are divided. Class rules in the UK, whereas money defines the pecking order in their former colony. The revolution was meant to throw off class divisions, but we’re dealing with human nature here. People must know where they stand vis-à-vis their fellow man. If the aristocracy is destroyed, then the only measure can be monetary.
But, the founders were clever: they knew the danger of revolution. After all, they had just managed to pull one off. They defined the fledging nation’s key value as self-reliance. Optimism in a land of opportunity and individual choice would reign. If you are a failure, it is your own fault, because this is the land of the free and the home of the brave. And, failure did not mean debtors’ prison, as it had in England. Some of the country’s biggest success stories started with at least one miserable failure. Debt can be easily written off, can’t it? Even the poor have recognized the ingenuity of this scheme. But, the average citizen has not noticed...or does not complain about...the way the wealthy have co-opted the system to benefit themselves even more than any aristocrat ever did.
Americans see class based upon birth as unfair, but a money-based system is strangely equitable. After all, anyone can run up credit card debt. Most have swallowed the line about self-reliance and equal opportunity. Anyone not believing the cant is branded a communist, even after that has proven to be a straw dog. After all, anyone can become President of the United States, whereas only the first-born male child of some old lady can become King of England. All school children are taught this myth is school. Of course, no one mentions the cost in terms of money, dishonesty, and character sacrifices. Or that anyone can question your birth certificate. Or that many have not learned the fifty states and thus might claim your birth to be foreign. Or that most voters are just plain stupid, might not recognize your significant qualities, and will believe whatever lie your opponent throws at them.
The English fawn over anyone with a hereditary title, no matter how worthless or impoverished; Americans worship self-made billionaires, regardless of from whom they have swindled their fortune. Unfortunately, both groups display many of the same traits: arrogance, snobbery, and lack of empathy. Often, the female of the species is the worst, especially if they enjoy the spoils of their husband’s wealth and have never accomplished anything (besides netting a rich spouse). None are familiar with Rudyard Kipling’s line: “The colonel’s lady and Mary O’Grady are sisters under the skin”.
Then again, all people are the same regardless of class or tax bracket...
It’s amazing how humans are easily enticed, enthralled, impressed, or placated by bits of colored thread and base metal, embellished pieces of paper, and honorifics. It does not matter that many rewards are trumped up and based on lies, half-truths, or misinformation. The artificial significance and imagined meaning are what’s important to those that find them so valuable for their egos. Pride is evident in every award-ceremony photograph. Certificates embellish walls in an attempt to enhance image, suggest personality, and provide worth to an otherwise empty life.
What would England do without its aristocracy? How would insurance companies reward their salesmen? What would veterans do with their medals, if there were no parades? People talk of serving their country, corporation, or military unit. No soldier wants to admit that he must give his life, even if deep down he knows that his country might take it. No medal can fill the void for once-proud loved ones. Corporations exploit their employees and placate them with worthless certificates, before making them redundant.
I feel that people should find value in aspects with substance and meaning, while being less susceptible to meaningless ornamentation...but perhaps that’s asking too much of the human race.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.