The “At Least I Got A Job” Society

 

Whether it is at the office water cooler, a holiday party, or as it was for me recently, the checkout line at the local market, people have a new phrase to mark these down economic times….”at least I have a job.”  As our communities continue to decline, and the use of anti-depressants among Americans increased by 400% the last three years, at least I have a job has become the new mantra for a generation unsure where to turn in such unstable times.

How ironic that proud Americans who survived a tumultuous revolution, a great depression, and two world wars, now feel fortunate just to be employed.  If those who won World War II are remembered as “the greatest generation,” will we the inheritors of progress, fighting for scraps and part-time jobs be remembered as the Wal-Mart generation? It begs the question: when does America stop being America? When do we turn away from this consumptive culture with a few winners, and start seeing people again?

Certainly our time has had its miracles; the information age gave citizens under oppressive governments a mechanism to rise up with “Arab Spring”, and computer technology created an unprecedented speed in global communications. Although impressive, these innovations also have a much overlooked cost. The resulting explosion of social media has created an addiction to computer screens that encourages obesity, and is enough of a diversion for Americans, that few even know their closest neighbors. Also, social, would certainly not be a word to describe the current state of American communities. The me generation has become the “only me” generation as wealthy citizens separate themselves into overpriced restaurants and gated communities. The majority meanwhile, a group that once asserted itself in mass movements, has become lost in a sea of media, superbowls, trivial celebrity behavior, and violent computer games.

As we know, there is no lack of experts waiting to tell people that computers are intellectually good for us, or chemicals sprayed on foods are at acceptable levels, but I challenge anyone using social media to engage people around the world as to their level of happiness. I believe you will find as I have (having chat friends in each region of the U.S. and the world), that the general state of stress and nervousness caused by our office cubicles, and mall culture extends far beyond our individual lives into the core of our very existence. In other words, everything sucks. We are asked to work two or three jobs where we once were required to do one, wages stagnate as costs climb, retirement funds crumble, and the tendrils of corporate culture skew our view on the realm of possibility. Settling for “at least I have a job,” is not only anti-democratic, anti-Christian, and dehumanizing, but counters the true greatness of a country which engages and empowers the individual. The evolution of culture requires we all come along for the ride. Culture should happen, and not be developed by cherry picked focus groups creating temporary trends to feed addicted masses false culture in the name of quarterly reports.

Engage people again! Discuss the state of your state and let others know how you feel and what you think. We can dig our way out, but we need to stop letting other people create reality, and give our own meaning to the human experience. Engage Bulgarians and Texans, chat about the quality of life and your hopes for the future. Invite your neighbor to a half hour coffee and discuss what a better society would look like. What characteristics it would have, what hopes would it generate? Don’t allow yourself to buy in to the “dangerous socialist” line and be banished to the basement of history. Talk to people, ask them what is going on, ask them what would make them feel part of something again, and how they define community. Write on media blogs and then create your own. Ask questions, take photographs, learn to make your own Christmas gifts and cut up your credit cards!

I learned more about my community from taking fifteen minutes to talk with someone at the local library, than I have from any book or magazine article the last fifteen years. I live in THIS community, and I am a responsible part of it. Love yourself and socialize again! Make a real difference and be part of the change. Then again, there’s always your job.

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