Monday, July 20, 2009

You and your world: An issue of Class

The article below was shared by member Christine H. (Thank you!) It talks about an interesting subject: Class. Class as in lower, middle, upper and astronomical.

Is there a class structure in your world? We'd like to know about it. And where do you fit in? Are you a lowly peasant striving to rise above your class and make a difference in the world? Or a member of the Nobility, who are trying to squeeze every ounce of taxes out of the peons? Or is there no class structure where you live....perhaps there is something much better....or worse?

So, let us know. Where do you fit in the larger picture?

And here is the very interesting article about class in this world:

Washington DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later:
the violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the till and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes:
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:
A 3 year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly, as the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced them to move on.

45 minutes:
The musician played. Only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace.
He collected $32.

1 hour:
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities.


Aidan said...

They call me a prince of Sentinel, so I guess that's what I am, though I'm not Lord Prince, which is the top job.

Kaelin said...

Sentinel is very stratified. There's the Council, which Aidan is a permanent member, being Lord Seer. My sister Lucy also serves on Council in conjunction with Aidan.

There are heads of houses, like Patrons. They are the eldest member of the family. After that, social strata is based on experience and age. Age counts for a lot-elders are due respect no matter the situation. I get some respect by being the top gun, and also because I have council lords and ladies in my family. But I also am suspect because I betrayed Sentinel once. I'm back now, but rangers have long memories. Most haven't forgotten the trouble I'm in and likely won't for several hundred years.

If we live that long.

Goran Njiric said...

Living up on the colony with an independent income that isn't dependent on working has allowed me to stay outside of the general hierarchical structure that tends to go on out here. Technically, according to the general rules, I'm a non-person. I rate about as much as a visiting tourist.

Engineers and station security personnel are the highest tier. After that are local division leaders, and after that are people who do normal maintenance on things in the area. It ultimately ends with people who own property of their own, who end above tourists.

I don't know how it works back on Earth at the moment, but I've heard it's just as bad, if not worse, than the Mars situation.

Since I sold the house I had on Burroughs colony, when I'm there, I would be a tourist and count as just someone else to be herded into a safe place.

Oh! Since I'm in the FGSS, I think I would get a reprieve from that. I would be up toward the top.

It's good to be on top after years of being just above the bottom.

shy said...

"I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money."

~Pablo Picasso

Ricky said...

I consider myself just ordinary middle class, although I guess since my family had a small lake house and I had a trust fund, I'd be considered upper middle.

My brother considers himself upper class, but I've known a few members of the real upper class, and unlike my brother, they don't feel like they need to prove anything.

Nevin said...

I'm afraid I have no standing among my people. It was bad enough that I had a taste for human music and left them to study among the humans. Now that I'm in a rock band, I'm a complete outcast.

Diana said...

Hi. This is a funny question.

When I was a kid, I was considered upper class because my family had land, horses, donkeys, and most of all, water. Unlike other kids in the valley, I could read, write, and do math. I never thought I was very special, though, because I had to work all the time, just like everyone else.

After the Guard came through, killing and stealing, I had nothing. I went with my aunt (I call her that, but she's not really kin) and her adopted son to live on a nearby reservation, where we were never allowed to forget we weren't part of their tribe. The nativists eventually forced us out and we ended up with the resistance movement, Unitas.

I had some status with Unitas because I was good at riding and shooting. I hated that kind of life, though. At first I thought it would be fun and exciting, but I was still just a kid. Once I realized how awful it really was to hurt and kill people, I had to leave.

Now I live far away from the people I grew up with. I'm starting over from the bottom, working for room and board. It's okay, though. I'm working with horses every day in a place with green pastures and plenty of water. I don't care if I'm a lower class than my employers. I get to live in a beautiful place doing work that makes me happy. I feel rich, and I think that's what's important.

Anonymous said...


We're middle-class I guess.


Candy said...

I don't think the story of the violinist has anything to do with class. However wonderful an artist of any sort is, some people will not be interested in or like his work. Or have time at that moment, in a station, to listen.

In England I guess my parents were lower middle class. When I became Goth I figure I lost my label. Over there a person is born into a class. It is blood and culture that count however much money you have.

In the US I was surprised to find quite uncultured people considered upper class just because they were rich.

As Ricky says, the truly upper class, are often quite casual as they don't have to prove anything.

Christine H said...

I didn't think that this article really had to do with class differences. I thought it had to do with priorities, and the pace of American life.

In some parts of the world, it would be considered unthinkable not to stop and listen to beautiful music. Here in the U.S., it is unthinkable to be late for an appointment or meeting because you stopped to listen to music in a subway.

So no matter how much you might appreciate the music, you are culturally bound to be at your appointment on time. I can't imagine that, when I was working at my "real" job, that I would ever dare to walk in late to the office or to a project meeting for anything other than a major excuse - the elevator broke, I broke my leg, etc.

Can you imagine what your boss would say, if you are an American, and you said, "Sorry I'm late and kept you all waiting for my report on the financial state of the company, but there was this guy in the subway...."

It's sad that we can't be more flexible with our time, but on the flip side, we are one of the most productive countries in the world. I suppose maybe Japan is more productive than we are, but they are even more rigid in their expectations.

Aidan said...

I would have listened. I'm not scared to be late. But then, I'm not human.

Marc said...

And you're also the boss, mate.

Jason said...

Yeah, that doesn't count at all. You're always late, but you never get reprimanded by anyone but the Lord Prince. And all he does is scowl.

Aidan said...

That's cuz I know things about him...

Julian said...

Your Sight is a gift, and a weapon. You must be careful wielding it or even threatening to wield it.

Aidan said...

Sorry sir. I was only kidding, but sorry.

Julian said...

I realize that, Aidan, but in future don't take it so lightly. That's all I'm asking.

Aidan said...

I know, Uncle Julian. Sorry again.

Speaking of class, no one in Sentinel has as much as Uncle Julian.

Maxwell said...

I blow up all the rich people unless they give me money.


Genev said...

In all thoughts of class distinction, money can not a gentleman or lady make.
Only knighthood and a true heart.

Mira said...

Hey all - nice to see some new posters here. :-)

Candy and Christine - I think that the article spoke to me about class distinctions, but I'm sure it would speak to other people in many different ways. It's a powerful story. I think your way of looking at it is just as valid, for sure.

Kalila said...

Christine makes a valid point. Ricky is always harping on us to be punctual. It's very annoying, but he says we have to conform to certain human expectations if we want to be liked by humans.

This is all quite new to me, since djinns aren't in the habit of caring what humans think. We're a superior species, which I suppose makes us upper class.

Djinns aren't the equal of gods, though. Or rather, we aren't the equal of gods who still have human followers. Weak gods who are treated as myths are not superior to my kind and some are so weak that we can easily vanquish them if we want to.

Rank and status among immortals can be very complicated.

Aidan said...

I like that quote about Knights. Reminds me of Kaelin.

Flower said...

I don't think I'm any class but I'd work hard to make sure no-one thought they could put that kind of label on me.
I think class is being replaced by educated, skilled and monied.
Your school and your university count though - I made sure I went to school locally - ironic that Will lectures at a 'good' university.
Blood only really counts if you have money or if you are prepared to sell your name to someone who has.

FLOWER said...

I'd know a good violinist from a bad one - but fussy fingering and notes designed to hurt your ear tend to make people move on fast - a badly played 'nice tune' would have earned more.

Christine H said...

The really ironic thing is this:

If a person had paid $100 to see Joshua Bell in concert at Carnegie Hall, and was ten minutes late to the performance because he stopped to listen to ANOTHER performer in the subway, he would not be admitted to the concert hall until the intermission. It would be considered both rude and distracting (to both the performer and the listeners) for people to be allowed to walk in late once the performance has started, even though they paid to be there.

Ironic, isn't it?

Mira, I think you do have a point that there is a bit of class issue when you read the whole article, as in that most of the passersby apparently didn't recognize the piece that was being played or the quality of the performance. They just thought it was another musical panhandler in the subway.

Having had to run the gauntlet of them myself in Philadelphia during my morning commutes, I can relate to the tendency to walk past as quickly as possible to avoid a confrontation.