But do these results bring a clear indication of what real achievement might be?
Achievements are very difficult to analyse. Setting a "true value" recognition to whatever someone has achieved is no easy task. How many times have we heard an athlete credit their family for their achievement.
Our society it seems, places a very high value on family, and a recent article cited that family meal time was the most valued of all. (www.news.com.au)
There are those who suggest this whole recognition factor is off centre. For example, recognising the value of family unit does not equate to Government financial structures as had this true value of family life been truly valued for the national good, no woman with a family would be required to work to meet the family's financial obligations.
The surveys show the greatest achievement
These surveys are showing that the greatest achievement in life is raising a family to maturity, giving the nation's children the best chance we can offer for their future, and enjoying the fruits of our labour as the grand children come along.
If the Government and the Institutions are not recognising the true value of families as clearly these surveys are illustrating, the question is, what sorts of achievements are recognised as landmarks in our society. This may guide us as to what sorts of achievements are recognised politically for a slice of the financial pie.
Take me and my wife's achievements as an example. I placed 150 chaplains in Australian professional sports from 1982-2000 having founded the Sports and Leisure Ministry under heads of Churches. I served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years and in Olympic ministry since 1984. We established athlete respite facilities for Australian Institute of Sport elite athletes and more recently another respite house for missionaries. I've written 24 books. We raised four children and we're grand parents. My wife volunteers with her 35 years of pastoral care experience and wisdom to the elderly in a nursing home and provides many meals and tasty slices to those in need. The list could go on and on (little different from many a Minister's household life of service).
That list is undoubtedly an achievement. But in terms of national recognition, celebrity and financial reward, that achievement doesn't even register on the national rating radar compared to say, cricketer Shane Warne with 700 Test wickets, or pop singer Kylie Monogue, actor Mel Gibson or businessman Kerry Stokes.
So how do we fathom such achievements
So how does one even begin to fathom the nature of recognition of achievements. A couple of years ago I sought some assistance from Centrelink having been through a bad patch in my health and welfare and was unceremoniously told that whatever my sacrifices for the national good and emotional exhaustion (with medical reports), the criteria for the assistance sought, did not match up to the boxes. We raised a family on missionary faith finances for 30 years. Moreover, the local Federal politician proved useless.
We've seen that Australians rate family life as their most highly valued commodity, yet Government, Institutions and Media rate other things far more highly and reward them accordingly.
We've also seen that intangible benefits such as the Pastoral care of our elite athletes is seen as valuable, but it's not rated to the same value as celebrating a cricketing spin bowler, listening to a singer, watching an actor, or a successful entrepreneur.
Balance is required
I am an avid reader of history and find historical documentaries enlightening. Perspective is like "the history I read", it relates to people who once were alive and are now dead, it helps set the drama of life into a more realistic world view.
History, illustrates paths of wisdom, moreover it also illustrates that there is one unalterable inevitability to physical life. The Psalmist says the generations are like the passing clouds.
Yet, life nonetheless demands balance. There is value to enjoying a sporting achievement, a good singer, a cinematic performance of excellence, earning an income. Unfortunately these can overshadow the sorts of achievements that have lasting values. Tomorrow, I'm off on another two weeks enforced respite for emotional and physical sustenance at the missionaries respite house cared for by my remarkable wife of 35 years and expenses met by a loving group of individuals who preciously care for us both.