Saturday, September 04, 2010

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Deal with It!

by Reb Akiva @ Mystical Paths

We do not deal with change well.  It’s part of human nature to become comfortable (or at least used to) our surroundings, conditions, and daily events.  Our minds don’t have an unlimited amount of attention that can be given to things, so our brains automatically filter out the known, the normal, the expected.

This is how a person will awaken to a sound in their home but live next to a busy street and sleep through ambulances and car noise.  How a person can drive to work and if traffic conditions are normal not even remember how the drive went.  The parts of life that are operating within their well known ways are gradually paid less and less attention.  They are “the way things are”.

This familiarity with how things are and that understanding fading into the background extends to politics, economics, even war and peace.  Our minds automatically judge events and news we encounter against “the way things are”.  An unspoken and sometimes unrealized context is the sounding board.

The side effect of this is when things change in a big way, our judgments are way off as they’re made against a baseline that no longer applies.

The last decade has been a time of astounding change.  If any one of them occurred, they’d be a course correction we’d all adjust too.  That many of them have occurred have left people adrift, judging events against contexts that no longer exist…

- The United States became the worlds sole superpower, pushing around the world to an unprecedented extent but also opening the possibility of gradual benevolent world improvement and correction.

- The United States was attacked by a non-nation, by a movement, and has been embroiled in multiple expensive wars – in which it’s held it’s own but not made any decisive victories.

- The effectiveness of the non-national movement has caused the rise of soft-power but bloody non-national anti-Western anti-civilization movements around the world, with corresponding major attacks and cultural impacts.

- The Western nations suffered a major financial crash.  That crash and the resulting government responses have destroyed the economic engines of the past 25 years, and governments have been completely ineffective in creating the conditions for new economic engines to arise.

- The combination of wars plus the financial crash essentially collapsed the United State’s position as a superpower, allowing the rise of multiple regional powers – some of benign self interest (such as China, India, and Brazil), and some looking for expansionism and regional hegemony (such as Iran, Turkey, and Venezuela).

What’s all of this mean to us, the common man?

-> The economic situation of the last 20 years has changed.  Easy money, quick loans, fast investment return are gone.  Building and growing businesses has become much harder.  Slow salary growth, slower career opportunities, many hot career paths of the past offering no future and poor choices of the past offering a better future.

For the religious Jewish community, this means less money available for charity and more people in need of it.  It means cutbacks in government programs. We must prepare more of our society to be able to earn a living in these conditions.

For how we educate our young people in the religious community it actually means an opportunity.  Many college based careers don’t pay so well anymore and may not be a wise investment, as back office functions are outsourced overseas.  Some types of skilled manual labor – equipment repair, wiring, and such requiring vocational training may pay as well as those formerly highly paid college careers yet offer easier entry with less secular educational background.

Many other changes and impacts come from these “macro” changes.  We can’t bury our heads and pretend things haven’t changed, nor (if we accept the current change) believe things are going to return to how they were.  NEITHER IS TRUE.

Times have changed and they’re not changing back.  New changes face us, and yes some new opportunities are available to be found. 

Not overcoming our tendency to focus on familiarity can have major negative impact.


Crazy Smade said...

Each passing day is just another nail in America's coffin. I guess that's how HaShem wants it. Would that my family could escape what's coming, but ... I guess HaKodesh Baruch Hu wants us all to go down with the ship. Oh well....

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