Change . . . to Everything a Season

A crowd of shoppers browse at Target on Black Friday.“You can’t stop the future
You can’t rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret
…is to press play.”
― Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
― Lao Tzu

We’ve created myths to helped people survive the last century, that only hurt now.

  • Whatever happens, you’re the same person you always were. Not true. You’re either learning and adapting or falling behind. There’s no middle ground. America is littered with people lacking the skills for employment at the same time employers are desparately seeking workers.
  • You are your career. Not true. Whatever you are doing today, you likely will be doing something else before you retire, if you ever can afford to retire. According to at least one labor economist, you can expect to spend some time on government assistance however affluent you are today. You may have to be self-employeed at some point to make ends meet. Prepare for it.
  • You’ve worked a long time and deserve a good life. Nope. Twain had it right. Life owes you nothing; it was here first.
  • I’m a winner. Maybe for now, but you’re going to die just like everyone else. What will you leave behind? It’s not too early to think about that because death can call at any age. As the country song says, “never seen a hearse with a luggage rack.”
  • That’s not my job. Only if you don’t want a job.
  • I can’t do that. You’re the primary barrier to accomplishment. The world doesn’t care about limiting you. No one person is that important, ego notwithstanding.
  • Greed is good.  Nope. Anything taken to excess is evil. Aristotle had this right, in teachning about the “golden mean.” Ultimately, greed to excess is destructive.  Dr. Guillotine’s invention is the most famous arbiter of the greedy.

The basic lessons are the same for the investment banker and the auto mechanic:  You have to plan, and work, and save under the assumption that at some point you will be unemployed. You have to plan for being self-employed for some period of time. If you had to do that, what would you do? You need cash to protect you when those things happen. You have to learn new skills that can help in current or other jobs. Your current job will not be your future job — in fact, you don’t know where you will end up.

The latest myth is that “whites are under attack” or “the working class is under attack.” Neither statement is true. We have people who made bad decisions, primarily about education, and who want to blame something for their self-inflicted hardship. They didn’t keep up, so they’ve fallen behind. Blaming immigrants (who are willing to learn and work harder) for their hardship doesn’t cut it.

Whites tend to support the GOP, which advocates cutting government programs. That’s funny, because most of the people on government assistance in the US are these same whites.  However, poor whites are and will continue to be a key source of domestic violence and instability. (OK, I’m white and I’ve been poor, so I understand the frustrations. However, it’s past time to get with the program. Emersion in frustration and fighting over historical relics do nothing.)

Which leads to the last and most important quote:

“This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

 

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