The State of Things

   The other day I got an email from the Heritage Foundation (because I like to read both conservative and liberal takes on things) that linked to, I believe, a publication called The Business Insider and the headline that caught my eye was something to the point of 'Our economy is f-ed and it's never gonna recover. Ever.' And, for some reason, I obsessed on this during one of my sleep-your-way-through-existential-angst periods last week and it just made me more depressed, as in, why even bother to work? Why strive to have a career? To find a meaningful purpose in life? All those things that have been tormenting me for the better half of my adult life as I have pursued first, a path that was all about trying to make things right in the world (social work, non-profit management, conflict resolution, Hospice, etc.), and then, the past sixteen, trying to carve a path in the freelance world of 'creative types.'
   So our economy will never ever recover, apparently, because of our tremendous (and growing everyday) debt. The fact that China and Saudi Arabia own the American dream. That there will be even more foreclosures coming up this year because of the mortgage rate schedule/term on loans that people really can't pay now that they've been laid off or 'downsized' or watched as their "specialty" got outsourced, that by-product of political agendas that told us 'global competition' was good for the marketplace (aka "cheap" goods; what they neglected to mention was the cheap labor that goes along with that and how you can't actually live on $ 2 a day in America--I've tried, it's hard), that there is no real chance of 'recovery' -- that catchphrase being thrown around if one person gets a job these days.
   Then on twitter, I saw a post from Harvard on how young people were particularly pessimistic about their futures, especially their economic futures as related to careers, finances, and, at the root, their survival. 
    The fact is the glory days of the 80s (in pop culture and wish fulfillment Celestine Prophecy, if not in reality--sort of the birth of the New Age 'you create your own reality' if you happen to be on the good side of luck) and 90s (in economic self-worth and possibility or wealth, if not in reality, carried over into the new millennium with the new mythologies of pop psychology perpetuated in The Secret, which, again, purports that if you are successful, your thoughts created your good fortune; if you have had bad things crop up in life, well, then, you must be doing something to deserve it, now aren't you?) are gone. As are the post-war prosperity sock hops and track housing American Dream developments that cropped up for GIs and USO gals anxious to settle into the good life after so much deprivation with the Depression and the War and butter rations and too many coffins sent home.
    But I contend that this is not necessarily a bad thing. Why are we so stuck on re-gaining something that was extremely flawed to begin with. We didn't care about how much we raped and pillaged the earth as long as there was a profit to be made. I would argue that kids today, in general, are more conscious with each generation (just as we were more conscious, socially, in terms of the entire world, than our parents, who lived in somewhat of a fantasy world when it comes to careers, work and the presumption that the child will have a better quality of life than the father who slaved away for too many hours in a factory or the mother who did without so her kids could have new shoes. No, that pretty much peaked out in the 70s, I'd say, by how hard it has been for me to make a living my entire adult life no matter how hard I work or how educated I am. The paths were carved out: be a lawyer or work for Daddy's bank. Other than that, it's going to be a crap shoot. If only someone had mentioned that 20-some years ago. But I wouldn't have believed it anyway, my heroes were Baudelaire, Coleridge, Bob Dylan and Owen Meany. People who went their own way. I thought it was possible. I believed Robert Frost. In short, I didn't see there was an option but to try, to be authentic, to pursue your 'bliss,' as Joseph Campbell advised.
   Maybe we'll end up deciding that a barter system is the way to go and get rid of monetary net worth (though that is highly unlikely) or we could 'put people back to work' by buying things that our fellow citizens make. We could value each other's work and talent, instead of just looking to get it 'cheaper' to increase our 'profits,' so we can what? Take a bigger, better vacation? Take out a bigger, better mortgage we can't afford, especially if our jobs get put on the chopping block, something most people couldn't imagine even 2 years ago the way they do now, with almost everyone knowing someone who knows someone who has lost their ability to earn the living they had become accustomed to, or lost their home, which they can now see razed if they happen to have lived in Detroit where the mayor is bulldozing half of the city because the homes are abandoned. It all just makes no sense. People lose their homes, those homes get demolished. Where are they living now?
    I think we need a sense of "community" on a grand scale more than ever--not just the community right in our  backyards but our country. We need to re-envision a sense of stewardship. We need to support each other the best we can, when we are up, help those who are down, and the other way around.
    Idealistic, naive, ridiculously Pollyanna-ish, I can hear them say. But, actually, if 'the experts' are all saying we will never, ever recover (never be "The Way We Were"), then we need to be something new and better, not just wither into a puddle of anxiety and doubt, a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom. Right? Who's in?