“What can I do to fix it?”, Tanner and Joe both ask me. The answer is: why do you need to feel you need to do anything to fix it? If you suppose that it’s all your fault that your life feels stuck these days, that you feel powerless and hopeless, do you know what you’re really doing? You are assigning yourself a kind of omnipotence. You are saying that you should have the power to live some kind of ideal life — even in a time of stagnation, collapse, and decay. And so the natural result, when that life does…
I love most of this piece, but I don’t agree with this part. I think you’ve drawn an incorrect conclusion. Like Joe and Tanner, I ask “how do I fix this” all the time. There is no omnipotence there. None. Nada. Dead wrong if you think so.
It’s not omnipotence. It’s the realization that if I lost my job, I’d be screwed so fast it would make your head spin. I did not create the situation where people don’t get a raise for years. Wasn’t my choice that women still get paid less for the same work. It was not my doing that CEO salaries increased over 1000% in the last 40 years while worker wages increased 11%.
But I live with the result of it. And regardless whose “fault” it is, the fact is that if I lost my job, it would be up to me to “figure it out” before I lost the roof over my head. No one — no one can live year after year after year, an entire life, with that hanging over their head. It’s too much.
I am not looking for some kind of “ideal” life. I suspect Joe and Tanner aren’t, either. Most of us just want to know we’re going to be okay. To have enough of a financial buffer that we won’t be among the homeless in 2–3 months if we lost one job and don’t get another fast enough. And not just any job, but one that covers all the bills. That’s a tall order. Companies pay less and less, because the CEO needs another increase, another vacation home.
Wanting an end to the damn struggle isn’t assigning omnipotence. It’s not looking for an ideal life. It’s looking to be safe in a world where the people one rung up don’t give a damn and we’re well aware of it. Maybe less so for a family with two incomes, but for those of us who row the boat alone, we just want a damn break from the constant anxiety. That’s not omnipotence, it’s trying to take care of our physical and mental health.