about: What Is Missing? America evolves. Some things are found. Many things are lost.
In the past twenty years, the American fabric has dramatically changed. The transformation has affected family life, self-esteem, politics, business, pleasures and dreams. This book examines fifty-one of those missing values—appropriately painted on original milk cartons and accompanied with corroborating essays.
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The Big Picture
“Priorities, priorities, priorities.”
We say the words often enough, but just how often do we live them? Are we able to keep our eyes on the truly important things, or do we fall into the tempting trap of minutia?
Human nature being what it is, my guess is that we are irresistibly pulled into the easy-to-accomplish things, partly as an excuse to divert our attention from the big picture. After all, it’s a long road requiring sweat and exercise to maintain good health. It’s an uneven journey of ups and downs to find long-lasting love. And it takes a ton of self-examination to arrive at a life’s purpose. The same is true for good parenting, true friendship, and courage in the face of adversity. These are not layups. They do not provide immediate gratification. And let’s face it, we do live in a world consumed with immediate gratification.
It’s more seductive to accomplish some small task, even if it’s basically insignificant.
Do enough of them and we begin to convince ourselves that we are making progress. Of course, it’s an illusion. The mountain of completed minutia is inconsequential in the grand scheme of life.
Think about it. Start with the big question: Your life’s purpose. After that, you can do a great deal of small things to make progress, but at least they will be aimed in a bigger direction. Chances are, the inches advanced will provide some immediate gratification.
“Where would you like to be in five years?” a big boss might ask a potential employee. “What sort of job do you see yourself doing? How do you envision rising to the next level in this organization?”
The right answer is, “It depends.” It depends on whether or not you are actually happy in the job. It depends on whether or not you want to chase a new career. It depends on whether or not you’d prefer to live in Hawaii for a few years. It depends on if you fall head-over-heels for the woman of your dreams and decide to elope.
Of course, few people have the courage to answer like this. It just sounds too immature. Or is it?
Fact is, the dedicated plodders are usually destined for middle management. They are great at flow charts but not very good at thinking outside the proverbial box. The whole idea of blue-sky ideation is foreign to them. Tragically, they are often the same way in their personal lives.
The whole idea of occasionally following a whim is exhilarating. It’s contagious. It’s inevitably a growth experience. It’s also a lost art.
Try it for a change.
Explore a city or a country you’ve never visited.
Have a sense of humor with a total stranger.
Go to the racetrack.
“Pop in” and visit a friend just for a cup of coffee.
Take your spouse to a hotel for a night.
When she asks, “What would you like to do tomorrow?” smile and answer,
It happened long before Edward Snowden leaked the fact that we are being watched, heard, and studied.
In 1948, George Orwell predicted it with his breakthrough novel, 1984. The book popularized the phrase “Big Brother is watching you,” and scared the hell out of most of us. Theoretically, it was a commentary on far-away totalitarian states. But with every year, the phenomenon gets closer to home.
Today, we have become accustomed to cameras on every street corner, and recorded phone messages. We are patted down and scanned before boarding any airplane. Last year in New York City, more than six million young people were “stopped and frisked,” without having committed any crime.
The computer, of course, has accelerated this trend. But the biggest culprit of the trend is ourselves. We willingly surrender and circulate our private information, and seem unconcerned about it. And the younger we are, the more prone we are to share private stuff. The majority of teens are unfazed about how many personal thoughts they distribute through social media. About 20% text fully-nude pictures of themselves. Of course, once it’s on the computer, it’s always on the computer…and often shared with other sites and total strangers, not to mention future employers.
We then wonder why or how we suffer identity theft. The simple answer is, we have given our identities away.