Update, January 15, 2019: I wrote a version of this seven years ago during the midst of the Occupy Movement. The change that many of us hoped for never happened. What is happening in the United States today is a whole different matter. It’s struggle for the definition of change. Some believe it’s a retreat to a time we can never go back to while others are pushing for an idealistic version that is fraught with unrealistic implementation and unintended consequences. But one thing I know is that the status quo isn’t an option – and it shouldn’t be.
As I write this, America’s federal government is in the midst of a three-week partial shut-down; a result of a vanity legacy project concocted by a president who has created the exact crisis that he contends this “beautiful wall” is going to solve. Like a petulant toddler, he’s threatened to declare an unprecedented national emergency by diverting federal funds from the Puerto Rico and California national disasters to build the project. Aside from the grave effects this diversion will have on those affected – what precedent does this create? What next will this president … or any other president do in aim of feeding their ego and thirst for power and eternal fame.
Will things ever be the same?
It’s obvious that we are in a period of transition; a period of change. And whether we like it or no … there’s nothing we can do about it. But what if the change was so profound that, “things would never be the same again?”
It’s becoming painfully obvious that humanity’s addiction to fossil fuel is leading us down a path of extinction if we don’t make drastic changes in our personal and collective behaviors. But to make this happen, we’ll have to move past political rhetoric and attempts to appease those stuck on a life cemented in the past. Politicians have made it habit appealing to the lowest denominator of human rational and those exhibiting it.
When will the realization finally set in that a college degree no longer provides that fail-safe career protection with a Fortune 500 company and iconic the gold watch after decades of service? Instead of the promise of a BMW in the garage and an ever-increasing 401K – you get a five-figure plus school loan debt. When will the societal norms we put on our young people instead release the shackles of past expectations and let them live for the realities of today and the future they want?
What if investing in that “white picket fence” doesn’t provide that retirement security it did for you parents? What if that possibility no longer exists? And what if that mortgage you’ve sacrificed everything for instead anchors you professionally in a world where flexibility and mobility is a prized commodity? Your “white picket fence” now surrounds not your security, but rather imprisons you in a sinkhole of geographically restrictive professional stagnation.
Unfortunately too much of the time, we evaluate ourselves by the money we have in the bank, the toys we have in the garage and the school on that diploma on the wall. As we will find out, during times of change – monetary worth is fragile and often irrelevant. We may try to hedge, set up backup plans and do whatever we can to preserve our “things” – but we can’t stop the wheels of change. And often our “things” get run over in the process. What will you do to break your addiction to “things” and evolve to a state beyond personal consumption; one where the contribution to our relationships with our friends and neighbors dictates our real wealth?
If we choose to pursue a life based on security and the preservation of the status quo, we have to make assumptions, assumptions based on the past and the value systems of prior generations: Energy is and will always be plentiful, college is a safe bet, buying a house is your retirement and success is “things.” These are life views that may no longer be relevant.
What would you do?
A few years ago, I saw a movie about life after an economic and societal meltdown. I don’t remember the name of it, but the imagery still sticks with me. The things that were valuable before, were no longer. And what wa taken for granted, such as water and gasoline – were invaluable.
Now I’m not predicting Armageddon, but it’s obvious that we’re staring right in the face of change – not just here in the United States, but worldwide. Just ask my friends in Great Britain. The things you hold near and dear, may soon be gone. That economic and societal security that was always first and foremost in your mind, may now become nothing but a memory of “the good old days.” All the constants you believed in … are now just more variables, variables you have to figure out. What are you going to do?
You have two options. You can attempt to hang on to yesterday – a yesterday that most definitely will never be back. Or you can look forward to living life differently – shedding yourselves of the same, the convenient, the comfortable – and replacing it with the unpredictable, the inconvenient and the exciting. Rather than fearing the inevitable change, what if you embraced it? What if you built your life and raised your children to expect the unexpected?
When I say unexpected though … I don’t necessarily mean bad. Not having rock-solid security is not a death sentence. In fact it may be the key that unlocks the door of your self-imposed prison. Imagine every morning you looked forward to what the day could bring you; who you could meet and what opportunities could unveil themselves to you that could change your life forever.
One thing we know for sure, change is a constant. Tomorrow is not going to be the same as yesterday, no matter how much you may want it to be. The only question will be is how you handle it.
” The mind can make heaven of hell … and hell of heaven.”
Personally I don’t do well in the heat, how about you?