How Can We Have So Much and Be So Soft?
I have always been able to have conversations with friends and family members with differing political views because we talk about the morals, values, and ethics that live above politics. You know, the ones that all of us used to remember as the ideals of the American spirit. We treasured characteristics such as respect, fairness, inclusion, vision, kindness, opportunity, supportiveness, and unity.
Right now, virtually anyone who works is in the cross-hairs of change and far too many are viewing the changes as dreadfully threatening. Put on a new set of glasses and we find a new life with ever greater freedom from monotonous tasks. Without insight or understanding of how to change ourselves, we fall back on the very filters that will kill self-change on the spot. All of us have been trained. They are the filters of cynicism, contempt, aimlessness, resignation, and frenzy. Now, when we most need to change, the filters have become full-time jobs of taking it out on each other. For example, Lady Gaga says, “The Internet is a toilet.”
For anyone that has even a modicum of spirituality or for those of us who want to maintain our sanity, we rush past the posts filled with name-calling and rage to locate friends and role models that do their very best to be positive, the ones that add rather than detract from the light.
Why have so many become so unhinged?
I’ve never seen so many people frightened about their future. When almost ½ of our country’s workers characterize themselves as underemployed, they are having increasing difficulty envisioning a future livelihood.
During this week’s debates, I came to the conclusion it is time for all of us to stop depending on our politicians for any meaningful leadership on the conundrum of work. There wasn’t one word about how we can strengthen our relevance during the biggest restructuring of work since the industrial revolution. Lest we skip past the importance of relevance, let us remember that democracy gives every citizen relevance. Lose that and we lose the purpose of democracy. Instead of using such a valuable opportunity to enlighten the citizens, we had the same tired chestnuts of demonizing the rich, preaching about the victims, and promising more jobs. It is so ironic that most everyone on the stage had taken huge donations from wealthy benefactors only to demonize abundance. If I had children, I would cover their ears.
No one implied, not even once, we would have to do a thing beyond casting a vote.
The war in front of us has to begin. It is our war with the past. We have an educational system that is designed to serve the industrial revolution. We don’t teach the life skills that are necessary for modern success such as wealth, sales, influence, building communities, and connecting with mentors. Other civilized countries don’t lay off their workers because of obsolescence, they keep teaching their workers to stay ahead of change. It isn’t socialism, it is an investment that produces wealth in every corner.
The great dysfunctional relationship between America’s citizens and politicians began with John F. Kennedy’s assassination. He was the last in a series of great leaders who told us to fix the world’s problems. They told us to get educated. They inspired us to serve during war and to serve during peace. They told us that the great fortune of being an American required that we give back to our communities.
But, shortly after JFK’s passing, the advertising industry introduced a marketing tool that ultimately destroyed our contract of mutual responsibility. The focus group became a method for politicians to determine what we wanted to hear rather than what we needed to hear. That’s as healthy as asking one of our dachshunds how many biscuits she wants to eat.
5 decades later can anyone remember one politician step forward and say, “You are the problem?”
Promises breed hope and hope produces inaction. After 50 years of pitches and promises, there is a growing contempt for the voters. The narrative is no longer about rallying all of us around meaningful solutions that require our blood and sweat, the mission is simply to get the vote, no matter the cost.
The problem is that the very people that need the biggest insights are given messages such as one that Mitch McConnell gave to the press. He said, “We ought to get these coal miners into trucking jobs. There are lots of trucking jobs.” As a result, how many out-of-work coal miners signed up for trucking school?
Daimler had just finished its 5-year pilot program of driverless trucks in Nevada. The findings were so positive that Anderson Graduate School recently indicated that today’s 5.2 million trucking positions will dwindle to about 600,00 jobs in just 7 years.
It is time to stop depending on any of our political leaders for a cogent understanding of how to become part of a new world of work where task work is disposable work at best. Artificial Intelligence is bringing cost-free education to the masses. 3-D printing is breeding an entirely new category of entrepreneurs. There has never been a better time to start a business, change careers, and tailor our work to fit our career DNA. Instead of monotony, many of us will find far greater satisfaction is developing work that is based on empathy, creativity, developing solutions, and engaging others in causes that actually matter. I think, for example, of a brilliant scientist that I support. His team is actually part of the cure for cancer. Stepping into his lab for the first time, he waves his arms overhead and says, “Welcome to my temple of hope.”
His is a different brand of hope that keeps long hours and works with others until one molecule turns into a revolution and lives are changed forever.
Technology is offering us freedom from tasks. But, if we don’t know how to use that freedom, who is there to urge us on, to tell us the truth?
Instead, we have a nation of unsettled workers, their faces bathed in the glow of their cellphones, as our leaders promise they will fix it for us rather than requiring that we think and work our way out of the past and into a far brighter future.
I believe that if the Roosevelts, Eisenhower, or JFK teleported to the present time, they would be stunned.
They would probably look at each other and ask,
“How could they have so much and be so soft?”