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Importance of the Central Idea

Ah, the importance of a central over-arching idea in our lives. (Also known as “attitude”).

I was reading an article recently in the New Yorker about the “New Depression Journalism”. Apparently a form of Great Depression is still going on, despite improving economic statistics. I interpret the article this way: there is a vast subset of Americans for which the economy does not work. Pay is poor, working conditions are poor, and fundamentally work life is unfulfilling, or there is no work (unemployment). The author of the article discusses recent books on the subject of marginalized American workers, and asks: why isn’t there more political action? Why aren’t there mass organizations? Why isn’t the political system responding?

Wow! Let me offer this reason: their plight is not so bad. If mass numbers of Americans were starving, I think there would be a response. If mass numbers of Americans can’t get certain parts of their lives right, is that really the political system’s fault?

Any one of us can look at our lives as extremely unfulfilling, or extremely fulfilling, given exactly the same circumstances. In this respect, the article reads poorly and is very unconvincing. At one point, the article quotes a complaint that “American businesses are not even interested in the American consumer”. This is stated because of all the business interest in capturing consumers abroad. Really? You are telling me that Americans feel left behind because businesses are not exclusively focused on them as consumers?

Wow again! I have no doubt that 1/4 to 1/3 of Americans are unhappy and unfulfilled. Guess what? That’s their problem. We all have to create a fulfilling life for ourselves, no matter the dismal circumstances. Opportunities abound, no matter what your circumstances. The examples are out there.

People will always find ways to be unhappy and unproductive. Should “fixing” the lives of people who are unhappy be our focus, or should creative energy be our focus? If the former, our society will wither and die in short order. That’s probably OK for those who are miserable anyway. I don’t recommend it.

Life is not easy. It’s your life. Do something with it.


About Anthony Mannucci

A physicist (yours truly) turns his attention to many subjects...

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