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Opinion: Status cities

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We humans care about status. A lot. Archeologist excavating ancient Sumerian (centuries before Christ) communities, discovered necklaces of sea shells harvested hundreds of miles from the graves. It points to the likelihood that commerce has been with us from the very foundations of society – yes. But too, it indicates the desirability of prestige from our earliest civilized moments.

While some of us have become highly adept at concealing it, one would be hard-pressed to find any among us who is immune to its allure. Sure, not everyone covets a red sports car or diamond ring of epic proportions; but if the consideration of status is imagined beyond the limits of precious metals, our obsession with it becomes clearer.

Some find the performance of our children to be status enhancing (perhaps extinguishing). Others care deeply about personal command of Holy Scripture. Others still find appearance to be the currency of their own relative standing. Jobs, alma maters, language and accents, even skin-tone are employed as the apparatus of comparison.

The last few years have been tough on California. Taxes and unfunded liabilities continue to drive citizens to consider other alternatives of domicile. Yet friends from certain communities cling to an almost antithetical boastful superiority. Can it be that the city of our residency is just another status tool? Are you really smarter and better if your zip code includes the Silicon Valley? And, does keeping Portland weird and Austin interesting actually point to an underlying desire toward superior status rather than the stated open-mindedness?

“If you are not from my town, you cannot be as cool as me.” Maybe. Or, maybe not. Even as we are wisely investing in our own communities, we should be reminded – is our objective to achieve a better quality of life or to grab a little more status?

 


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