“It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives, it is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

whattodoSome time ago I wrote a note to myself which said “The collective complacency of the baby boomers has been kaleidoscopically shattered.  I wasn’t thinking much about other generations who might be experiencing something similar.  But upon further reflection, it would seem the younger generations might be into their own form complacency.  It’s just that theirs, having different roots, has not yet shattered.  And they have time on their side. 

I wasn’t seeing the forest for the trees. Ha!  I was in the forest, on my knees, inspecting pine needles, being my normal self-absorbent-self.  Honestly, in the end, isn’t it always about “how is this going to affect me?”

During that note writing period I was focused on the challenges of creating a new existence – for ME – after retiring from a demanding professional life.  But eventually I realized, once I stopped thinking about ME, that reinvention could be the new reality for everyone. That’s a paradigm shift of classic proportions. Entire industries – music, automotive, retail, telecom, advertising, printing, news media, publishing, among others, were being forced to reinvent themselves.  I, and my recently retired compatriots were no exception.

Somehow reinvention sounded an awful lot like…WORK.    Change and its evil twin, adaptability, are work.  And I wasn’t expecting that.  I suppose I’m like everyone else who is totally absorbed in their career – no space for thinking about that distant future or anything else until anything else is the only thing staring me in the face. 

The brilliant Jeff Jarvis in his ground breaking book of a few years ago, What Would Google Do, warned us that the Internet had caused business “to lose control of so much – brand, message, price, competition, security – but more than anything else, …timing.  The Internet …changed the speed, the rhythm and the process of business and next [would] do the same to government.”

Well…maybe that’s not a bad thing.  Stop.  Is it?  Given the whiplash deployment of recent executive orders in Washington, suddenly I’m pining for the molasses days of yesterday when change was more gradual – we had time to adapt.   Ah, adaptability. Was that what Darwin was talking about?  But did he differentiate between the changes we want, the changes we don’t want…and the changes we need even if we don’t want them?  Do we get a vote?  Actually we did –  Nov 6, 2012.

I’m so dizzy.

I’ve always believed in the law of the pendulum.  When things swing too far in one direction, they will begin to go in the opposite direction.  It’s that mother nature thing. She has a way of leveling that playing field when we mere mortals think we can stack the deck, or take a nap and ignore the obvious outcomes.  Maybe the life lesson is that if you, we, individually or collectively, or our government, aren’t inclined to do the right/smart/efficient proactive things that our representatives are elected to do –  to protect what we confusion2value, and keep things in balance, insure the best future for all – nature does it for us.  Hence, lost jobs, foreclosures, failed businesses, inflation, no economic resiliency, no preparedness for this inevitable correction.

OMG – Don’t you love that term?  People, we’re having a little life correction.  Homes are still being foreclosed,  jobs are still missing, more people than ever are homeless and hungry, cities are closer now to bankruptcy than they were a year ago (See Detroit) and still our government is at a stalemate. It’s shameful.  No leadership there to lead us out of the wilderness.  I’d say that’s enough of a correction. 

So.  If we like all these  changes, that’s a good thing, right? But if we believe that the changes are harmful, what then?  That is indeed the question that has our country polarized.  Half seem ready to accept  (I don’t think for a minute it’s what they actually believe)  a more socialistic society where the haves must take care of the have-nots. The have-nots are given what they need so there is no motivation to go out and do it themselves.  Why should they?  It’s a lovely, idealistic, Kum By Yah philosophy much akin to piling twelve people in a life-raft that only holds six.  You know what’s going to happen, but you can’t NOT do it. So everyone drowns. 

The other half believes just as strongly that the haves succeeded by self-motivation and hard work, and they are entitled to and deserve their success and all that it brings. They are more than willing to do the hard work, but they question the wisdom of those who are capable but not willing to also be self-reliant and accountable for their own success or failure.

Apparently the current culture no longer believes in or teaches self-reliance, capitalistic ingenuity, and independence,  even though study after study proves that without free market competition, the entire system eventually collapses.   Is that what we want?  Our school systems and municipalities are driven by politically motivated and self-serving unions that have no fiscal accountability – hence all the states that are facing bankruptcy do so because they foolishly got bullied into agreeing to provide fantastic benefits which they had no hope of paying for.  They just threw up their hands and hoped someone else down the road would have the courage to deal with the consequences. Whether it’s the state or the federal government, or my family, or yours, it’s very clear.  We cannot spend more than we have.   

Ben Franklin said it so wisely:

“When the people discover that they can vote themselves MONEY, that will herald the end of the republic.”

That is so common sense, I cannot be convinced that there is not some Machiavellian plan afoot to completely dismantle the basic tenants our country was founded upon.  Why else would anyone in the right mind be a party to what is happening in our Government?  At a recent dinner party there  ensued a lively discussion about our corrupted elected officials and one participant commented “Oh well, there’s nothing we can do, they’re all corrupt.”  That can’t be the only response to the problem.

chickenlittleI sincerely believe that free markets function best, but ours have been so manipulated, by so many different factions, how can there be any other outcome but complete collapse, issuing in a world wide economic depression like nothing we have ever experienced.   The decision makers who create jobs and opportunity – the very backbone of our way of life, have had every reliable tool they use for decision making, disrupted by so many layers of government regulation it is impossible to function…and so the inevitable is happening – made all the more clear by the events in Europe. Their socialistic experiment has failed.  Doesn’t anyone grasp that fact or has complacency rendered us all inert?  

Without jobs and opportunity and entrepreneurial businesses to generate the tax revenue to pay for all these lovely free gifts from government, our system will collapse.   Is this glorious two-hundred-fifty-year-old experiment in democracy and self-government over?  There are so many wonderful things about this country that we should value,  it’s hard for me to ignore the alarms I hear in my head. 

I’m numb from the drip, drip, drip of a Chicken Little government that is more invested in shouting about the sky falling in rather than doing something about it.  The whole mess has us so anesthetized  that now I”m sounding like the doomsday naysayers and the Mayan calendar people we’ve heard for the past year.  But tell me please, how many eleventh hour crises can one endure? When did sequestration enter your vocabulary?

Shouldn’t we insist on reasonable, well thought out solutions from our government – solutions that reflect the intelligence our country was founded upon?  Sticking our collective, complacent heads in the sand and expecting that things will just turn out “all right”  all by themselves, doesn’t exactly feel like a wise approach. Besides, my definition of “all right” may be very different than yours.

Darwin was right, we must adapt to survive, but can we please not throw the baby out with the bath water?