Quality is a nearly lost attribute in society today. The influences of money, greed and selfishness have overcome this powerful trait and have even lowered its perceived standards in everything from the music we listen to to the sports we watch.
The modern world would have everyone believe quantity and advertisement equal quality, yet some of the highest quality products and performances I've seen are some of the least well-known and advertised.
The thesaurus links quality with such words as "superiority," "excellence" and "worth," but until Americans remember the true standards of this important attribute, accomplishment of hopes and dreams will become joys only the rich and beautiful can attain.
Technology is one of the greatest blessings and hindrances of the present age. Technology has brought about the eradication of diseases, an enormous spread of information, and above all, a better condition of living.
However, it's also brought about new methods of committing crime, new systems of satisfying greed -- and the autotune.
Don't get me wrong, just like technology, autotuning has its benefits (I've even used its mesmerizing technique on my own voice) but it's also the means through which unqualified voices like the Black Eyed Peas have made it to stardom. Hearing this group in concert is like having someone fire a staple gun down your ear!
Before autotune, the magnificent voices of Frank Sinatra and Celine Dion enriched the eardrums of mankind.
Now, any and every Disney Channel female star has her own band and album, and the radio stations have a blast playing their songs over, and over, and over -- sometimes twice in a row.
The Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus have amazing voices, however, none of them resonates or has supremely beautiful pitch because they've been trained to sing with quick-stage voices. I've never heard any of them hold a good note for longer than five seconds.
Advertisement, technology and good looks have made many of these unqualified voices rich and famous.
The world has replaced resonating, fine-tuned and articulating masterpieces of genetics and rigorous training with the choppy, scratchy, inexperienced voices of young teens who can barely hold a note. Quality is experience.
Sports are not impervious to this loss of standards either. Hockey was once an admirable sport of reflexes, strength and skill but has now become an extension of boxing and Ultimate Cage Fighting.
The NBA was once filled with players like Michael Jordan who sought more playing time mainly for the love of the sport. Corruption and greed have replaced these esteemed athletes with ravenous money-grabbers who couldn't care less about giving their all and dedicating their best efforts to the team. Quality is dedication.
At one time, "great family film" meant pleasant entertainment and laughter. Now, such films have slaughtered the illustrious classics and are about cruddy story lines, horrible acting and absolute rubbish!
Special effects have replaced the necessary attributes of good acting and storytelling; although the newest films now prove amazingly realistic, they lack the essence of authentic filmmaking. As George Lucas once said, "Special effects without a story is just special effects."
The saddest aspect of this loss in film quality is the fact that the world accepts it! Critics give 6.9/10 ratings to rubbish and 7.1/10 ratings to magnificence -- raising the lowest refuse closer and closer to purity and perfection.
The latest "A Christmas Carol," created by Disney, boasts amazing special effects which add a sense of elegance, wonder and beauty to the film, but they also detract from the original meaning of Charles Dickens' classic and turn it into a horror film!
Each special effect takes nearly five minutes to complete and causes the story to drag on forever. The Ghost of Christmas Present, originally meant to bring the joy and laughter of Christmas into Scrooge's life, is turned into a loony-bin laughing skeleton who creates more fear and horror in the hearts of the audience than even the grim reaper Ghost of Christmas Future! Quality is authenticity.
Of all the attributes that define quality, however, care is the most significant.
A company that truly cares for its customers will do just about anything to produce a product that will endure the test of time, contain the best materials and still be economically affordable.
An athlete who truly cares about his or her sport will spend nearly every iota of time refining performance. This same company or athlete will always continue to improve themselves and their product. Quality is care and refinement.
Quality, America, is not quantity. Quality, Europe, is not special effects. Quality, Asia, is not money. Quality, Australia, is not power. Quality, Mankind, is produced through dedication, refinement and experience; is authentic, outstanding, and enriching, and, most of all, CARES!
Quality should not be confused with perfection yet it is the closest mankind can possibly come to it.
Shane Goudy is a senior at Northridge High School. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.