Polling for Dollars

Being a teacher and a counselor has allowed me to spend many hours working with that fragile segment of the population suffering from schizophrenia. Those most seriously afflicted are prisoners of the hallucinations in their tortured minds.

This experience has taught me to keep the world of sports in perspective. Wins and losses, batting averages, on-base percentages and other mind numbing statistics are very important to the participants and statistical fodder for the fans. These numbers lose their significance when considered along side the ravaged brain of the schizophrenic.

Schizophrenia is defined as “…a mental derangement characterized by the presence of conflicting impulses, emotions and ideas.” After seeing the results of a recent Harris Poll, I found myself wondering if our overall society does not suffer from some form of this illness.

Consider these findings. The results of the Harris Poll state that Americans believe teachers, engineers, and members of the clergy are among the most prestigious professionals in society. Individuals considered to have the least prestige are athletes, artists and entertainers. These attitudes don’t seem to be reflected in today’s popular culture. If nothing else, this poll shows that prestige pays poorly.

Examine the high-stakes industry of advertising. Companies spend enormous sums of money with the sole intent of making even more by promoting their wares. Knowing this, whom do you think they use for spokesmen. Engineer Bill?

When was the last time you saw a television commercial that featured a high school music teacher selling new cologne? The idea is laughable. Americans respond to messages that associate Tiger Woods with the good life and Dennis Rodman with good burgers.

The results of this poll seem most amazing when measured against our appetite for sports. Many of us spend thousands of dollars on season tickets before we know who is going to be on the team, even when this decision will put a strain on the family budget.

It appears that the results of this poll, which is basically an intellectual exercise, conflict with our public behavior, which is an exercise in reality. It is hard to ignore the schizophrenic nature between what we think and what we do.

Personally, I believe that as a society, we would be better off if we patterned our lives around the attitudes indicated by the poll.

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