I often wonder what has really changed in our world, or better yet- what has caused those changes to occur. I grew up in the fifties and the sixties. Life was very simple then. My dad went to college, my mom did not. Even though most husbands and wives work now to help pay the bills, it was accepted back then to have the wife stay home rather than pursue a career.
As I grew up I developed, intrinsically, a work ethic based on independent motivation. I could work harder, develop, and improve myself with skills and with proper foresight, I could get ahead. I tried to motivate my children the same way, instilling in them the fabric of self-worth. I tried to show them to independently assess other people’s values and to discern the difference between an aspiration and an expectation.
We gave our children things. We wanted their life to be better than ours, much the same as my parents wanted me to do better they did. But in my early years, we were not given that much. Much of what we achieved we did ourselves -and we had to figure out how to do it. Many of us continue this thought throughout our lives. Our dependency on others was less, and in today’s times continues to be so. Life used to be simpler, less costly, and in general, opportunities were more abundant. But times have changed,
In contrast, today’s opportunities have become more scarce. For adolescents to break out to become more independent in life, they not only have to be good, they also have to be lucky. Due to lack of the same opportunities I had earlier, and a mindset of dependency, life has changed. There now seems to be a dependency on others, on government, on any form of handout, for people to exist. It is apparent to me that rather than have a dependency on drive, the aspirations, and the perspiration that encourages us as a people to hold a work ethic of self-worth, we have dropped down into a position of entitlement. Many of us have lost, as a people, that part of life that has inspired and driven independent success. As needed support from parents and government flow in, there is less emphasis on aspirations and a greater future dependency on expectations. The “what do I have to do to get it done”, becomes “what am I going to get?
It is a sad commentary on life that we, as a people or nation, have more recently had to rely on handouts to make ends meet. The cost of basic living has increased disproportionately to the increase in our income. Housing, whether renting or owning, has seen ridiculous cost increases. Perhaps in an effort to stabilize the economic conditions in this country, our elected officials should not only try to control health care, but other areas of life including food and shelter.
My point in all of this, is that over the past 50 years, I have witnessed a complete shift in the thought process of living. That intrinsic work ethic that enveloped society in my earlier years has been replaced by a plastic replica that has no resemblance to earlier experiences. When you hire a contractor, how many of them actually show up- or even call you back? How many really care about the value of what they are giving you? Do you notice the number of mistakes people make in their jobs, or maybe it’s that they just don’t care very much. It has become more rare to get an honest, intelligent person whom you can trust to perform tasks in a reasonable manner. All too often, it’s “What is in it for me?”, rather than “how can I perform this task brilliantly to get the best result so that I can be fairly paid?”
In this new life of cell phones (although no one answers them anymore-just texts), computerization, 3D movies, etc., we have vastly advanced in the mechanics of technology. Yet we live in the dust of the glory days of reason, accountability, respect, and self-worth. And it is within ourselves that these changes have occurred. While technology is advancing, we as a people are regressing in those much-needed elemental tools of thought, reliability, second guessing, and double checking. And we can’t respect others without first respecting ourselves. We rely on leaders of our once-great nation, who themselves have little or no respect for themselves or anyone else for that matter. Our leaders are falling short. Their thoughts are to argue a point rather than share essential values to get the job done.
Life seems to be trying to tell us “if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for me.” Our new design seems to blame and shame others rather than to respect our own responsibility. But It goes against my inner being that I should accept second best, and I recognize the respect that we owe ourselves and others. Our reality for life should be to strive for aspirations, leaving the expectations to others’ folly.