Well here we are again. As I mentioned last week I have not been goofing off but quite the contrary. Dealing with a bunch of different issues but most of all trying to steer the starship TTG upward to look at things from 30,000 feet. I am attempting to view current events dispassionately as moments in time without wringing out every bit of rancor and calamity as some of our esteemed pundits do.
It has been difficult to start writing again. Not because of writer’s block but rather a cornucopia of ideas and observations. I keep trying to refine all that mess into a few salient points but I am not sure of my progress. I keep looking for the silver bullet of cognizance that will help us all move forward in a positive and fulfilling way but alas it remains elusive.
I am struck by attitudes and two in particular. Let’s call the first a sense of survival. No matter what our lot in life we view the world as a tough place. If we have money and the good life we want to lock our selves neatly inside. See a heart wrenching story on TV or in the press and quietly say there but for the grace of God go I. Sorry to hear about your misfortune but I am a little busy right now.
If you don’t have it, making things work is a constant ordeal. Over 50% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. One misstep and you are done. Some deal with it and plod on. Some bitch and moan. I am a victim and the world should bail me out. Others just give up and succumb.
The commonality is this vision of success. For most it is defined by money and possessions. If you have them you are going to do everything in your power to keep them. There is never enough. If you don’t life is not only a struggle to survive but to demonstrate that you are worthwhile person. And both sides say, “you don’t have clue.” Distrust and rancor prevail no matter what is in your wallet. And that is a sad thing.
The other attitude is not so much one of optimism but blind faith. Some might call it denial. We tend to feel that somehow some way everything is going to be okay. As part of a daily regimen that is a good thing. As part of a long term strategy I am not sure that is in our best interest. We take things at face value without much question. For us old farts maybe that is just a technique to say let’s hope this thing doesn’t spring leak before we get out of here.
For the young generations of many names it is almost a disinterest. I am just going to keep on trucking. I don’t understand how this all works and I don’t have the time to read or study. I can’t really blame them. You watch government in stall mode or industry sacrificing everything in the name of share price and ambivalence seem the only sane way to operate.
Everyone seems to take the word of experts. I heard this from so and so and he or she really knows what they are talking about. From sports to the market to miracle cures we are beset by people you and I have never heard of but if they are in print or on TV it must be so. Dr. Phil, Dr Oz, Rolling Stone, Fox News, CNN, 60 Minutes, and now Brian Williams, all have come under scrutiny for less than factual expertise.
This may be a broad brush but I think our vaunted connectivity has had a debilitating rather than particularly positive role to play. We want everything fast and furious. Don’t bore me with details. A matter of morality or conscience? Just tell me what to do. You are hurting? You need help? Geez, I didn’t get that feeling in your last text. Why didn’t you speak up?
I think we have to get interested in our world and just as importantly in one another. We have got to see people as living and breathing organisms and not just a means to an end. How many of us really look at the world and say how can I help you? How can I make you better? How many of us just take the time to notice a fellow human being and even wonder how their life is going? This is not just a lofty goal but I really believe tantamount to our survival as a country and possibly a world.
The way we do this is a change of attitude. Not as difficult as it seems but it would take some work. Right now in your face is the national anthem. We need a consistent albeit positive message. We tell people to save for retirement but then the market goes down because consumer spending is off. Healthcare costs soar but we want our freedom to eat what we want and blow each others brains out with guns. We want to cut back on government spending but not for defense. And congress votes itself a raise every year. We want moral values but then take our 12 year old to a concert where the tickets are $600 and the bump and grind would make a stripper blush. As the old saying goes,”Me Thinks ye speak with forked tongue.”
A wonderful buddy of mine threw up his hands in disgust after reading one of my missives and said “Why can’t we all get along?” Well we can if we get serious and attack problems. But right now our DNA is soft, complicit and complacent. We are worrying about our own lives but not the motherland. Let someone else do it. I am too busy. Please tell me I’ve got it all wrong.
Ted The Great
Pew Research has demonstrated that people are as conversant in public affairs as they were 30 years ago. This despite the vaunted Information Age. Rich more than poor. Men more than women. Old over young.
A study by Portland State University asked twelve questions regarding today’s news. 2% got all the answers right. 6% got no answers right. Only 42% got half right. Lower income and less educated people were up on local politics more than national. Of those that voted 25% were deemed LIC, lower information citizens. I think that means they voted with their heart rather than their heads.
Success is defined as the accomplishment of and aim or purpose. It seems the most successful are those that view this a dynamic process. You don’t “make it” but rather go on from there. Constantly questioning and creating and reaching out to your fellow man or woman yield more inner peace. Money may be a measure but does not assure it.
Your resume can and probably should be the most random document you own. Uncertainty breeds creativity.
The most trusted people in US? Actors and actresses: Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock(she gets my vote) Denzel Washington and Meryll Streep. In the top ten are Bill and Melinda Gates and Alex Trabek. Nursing is the most trusted profession and politicians and used car salesmen the worst. .
Good morning, Ted. As I read this I was reminded of how cattle react to threatening conditions by clustering together and facing toward the center, away from the threat. While this may work for cattle, it makes me think of humans who choose to avert their eyes or to not put them in places where something can be seen or experienced that causes discomfort. There are none so blind…
I am reminded of the story and image of the child throwing starfish back into the ocean, saving a life with each toss. The person observing this inquires as to how this can make a difference and the child tosses one back and says “it made a difference to that one.” That’s my point. If “high connectivity” or just plain selfishness (“it’s all about me”) make changing the world seem overwhelming, we have the opportunity to change ourselves and make changes one at a time in the lives of people we meet.
Life affords us the opportunity to be observant, kind, and present to the situations and needs of others. It could be a server in a restaurant, a neighbor, or someone on the other side of the world (e.g. The Heifer Project). My observation is those who routinely aim their hearts and minds toward others are those who seem to live the richest and fullest lives. My two cents…
I think you should be writing John’s Head. Thank you for your thoughts and not the least getting what I was trying to espouse. Not because of my recent medical procedure but going before that I am really dedicating myself to try to make at least one human being’s life a little better every day. Like your “making that change one at a time.” It sounds corny but it can be beyond satisfying.
Fr Ted Hesburgh, former president of ND and I sat in his brother’s den sipping scotch one night. I asked him what drove him? He said “Every day of my life I try to correct injustice.” What a very cool thought. I thought of that last week after watching his funeral at ND. That conversation was some 20 years ago but it has stuck with me ever since.
Merci mon ami