At a time of economic recession many lose status. Or do they? If they see status in economic rather than spiritual terms that might be the case. With loss of status comes sorrow and bitterness in such cases.
Alain de Botton's examination of 'Status Anxiety' covers five causes - lovelessness, snobbery, expectation, meritocracy, dependence - and five solutions: philosophy, art, politics, Christianity and Bohemia.
The great clarity of the book and its captivating illustrations make it an attractive read. It has been used profitably in my church for a book club discussion.
Self esteem equals success divided by pretensions. In a pretentious world fuelled by advertising many are losing self esteem with tragic consequences when they see themselves failing. We so easily become yoked in to self valuation according to how we answer the question of what we do.
How do you counter status anxiety? By adopting a philosophy which grounds self worth in logic. By laughing at ourselves. By adopting a political stance critical of materialism, entrepreneurship and meritocracy. By adopting the downward mobility of Christ seeking the priorities of the Spirit. By going counter cultural in a Bohemian alternative way of life that refuses obedience to dominant ideas.
At a time of economic turmoil the understanding of our need for status is a helpful tool in attaining peace of soul amidst the changes and chances around us. Both success and failure can be turned to good if they are evaluated against more solid values, like good and bad.
Alain de Botton has provided a simple, clear, effective and timely directory in this highly readable and entertaining book.