Monday, May 28, 2012

What's Really Important

A co-worker and I got into a discussion the other day about the value of unions. He was very much against them because of experiences with union workers taking much longer than is reasonable to do their job and not being able to do it himself because the task fell under the union contract. My position was that while I don’t desire to be in a union, I support the concept and I think there are a few unions that still serve a good purpose. I gave the Actors’ Guild as an example, because they use their collective power to help persuade movie producers to provide actors with better working conditions. Many of these actors work so infrequently that they would take any part, without consideration of some of the things the Actors’ Guild has taken into account.

What surprised me was my co-worker’s response. Rather than mentioning the role of the government (which may or may not apply depending on the country a movie is being filmed in), his response was that he didn’t see the Actors’ Guild as important because he didn’t see acting as an important job. All actors do, he said, is provide entertainment. In his way of thinking, a job that provides a product for use by our military is more important than acting.

Don’t get me wrong; the men and women who put their lives on the line to defend our country deserve great honor. As do our peace officers and firemen, who also put their lives on the line to defend our way of life. And if you happen to be working for a company that is providing these heroes with the tools they need for their job, I hope you are putting your best effort into it because they deserve the best. But aside from that, what can we say about the importance of one job versus another. Is a manufacturing job more important than acting? What about teaching? It doesn’t matter how much you pay teachers (currently about $47,000 for nine months of work), there are always people who say they aren’t paid enough. That must surely be a more important job than acting.

But have you thought about what it is that our men and women in uniform are fighting to defend? When we say “our country”, we don’t mean just the land and the people, we mean the ideals of this country. We mean our belief in government by the people and for the people. We mean our belief that people should have the freedom to believe what they choose and to express those beliefs to anyone who will listen.

Isn’t that what acting is all about. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t agree with much of what movie makers say through their films. I don’t agree with their assertion that fornication, adultery, and homosexuality are okay. I don’t agree with their assertion that church isn’t important. I don’t agree with those who assert that men are not to be leaders of their families, and I gravitate to those movies where the men take charge. But even though I disagree with much of what actors are saying, we send our military out to defend the right of actors to say it. And though teaching is an important job, is not acting just another form of teaching? We learn a great deal from the stories portrayed in movies.

When it comes down to it, the job of the military is only as important as the things they are trying to defend. Think about those things you would like to see in a country during a time of peace. Those are the things we consider so important that we encourage young men and women to sacrifice their own lives to create an environment in which we can have them. The land that we envision is one in which kids can play outside without fear. It is one in which we can debate the nature of our Creator, what is required for salvation, and whether there is a God at all, without fear. It is one in which we have the freedom to print books and newspapers, and to make movies that support our point of view without someone coming along and carting us off to jail. The reason our military is so important and the reason we take time to remember those who have lost their lives in the service of our country is because those things are so important.