I am presently returning from a reunion of a non-for-profit dental organization who took the ideas and ideals of a particular icon in the dental industry, L.D. Pankey, and for over 30 years the efforts of many tried to teach us the importance of being the best person you can be, treat people the best you can, and to learn the best techniques and knowledge available in order to be the best dentist you can be for those you treat. To be honest, they succeeded in this goal. Unfortunately, I think like all organizations from government, business, religion, and education the visions became too internal and we lost the view of the big picture. I would be amiss to not include the similar mistake of the individual. To be honest, it was the global self-centered mentality that created the mess we find us all today. Thus, we find us in the battle of lessons learned verses the continuation of self-centered aspirations.
It has been my recent discussions with the young adult that has truly begun to bring clarity to me the depth of the problems we face and how we really aren’t facing what needs to be accomplished to fix the issues at hand. Imagine the loss of hope and dreams when these young people begin to look and the prospects of heading out on their own, and the obstacles in their way. For those who choose to end their education after high school, there simply are not any jobs that will allow them to grow in life. They would like the labor jobs that allow them the option of a goods days work for a good day’s pay, and then they have their personal time. For those who want to learn the trades, the available avenue for them has been limited by the anemic growth of our economy and opportunities. The four-year college graduate has taken on the responsibility of the high cost of their education to better him or herself. Now they have discovered the options available to them are barely enough to live on let alone pay back the loans they have accrued. And finally, those who head off to graduate schools continue to add the debt burden to the point where once they enter the work force at a delayed time in their life, the dreams of making a difference in society and living a “better life” is gone with debt, regret, and guilt of their life decisions even before they have a chance to start.
So, what happened? The word that seems to come to mind to answer this is just plane “greed”. When I use the word Greed, I am not only talking about money, I am talking about greed in power, recognition, life-style, perceived entitlements, and selfishness. As I stated earlier, just about everyone or organization became selfishly greedy, and it has finally caught up to us in global per potions, that until we accept our mistakes, will not be fixed.
In general, people have reached their limits, frustration has started to mount, and we see the debates beginning to hopefully lead us to at least a beginning resolution to our problems. However, it will take a lot of letting go, to turn this weight of limitation we created into windows of opportunity. Do I have all of the answers, no I don’t, but I can share where my thoughts are beginning to take me.
Let’s begin by eliminating promises we cannot keep as a society to each other, and let the individual take on more personal responsibility. We need to realize that as times change, our lives may also have to adapt to our surroundings, learning to live with less and stop thinking that “stuff” will find us happiness. In the same token, we need to realize that life is a journey of growth and discovery without a nirvana, so slow down and enjoy the ride. Happiness cannot be bought and is heavily reliant on emotional and physical health. And, ultimately, the realization that life is eternal neither at the beginning nor near the end.
Government needs to stop thinking that they can fix all of the problems and that their role is to take care of the individual rather than the masses. Its analogues to taking the leash off of a dog in a field, and letting them run free, but with defined boundaries. Let democracy let fall those who fail us, making room for new energy and ideas. And let government realize the regionalization of its influence leading to tolerance of other peoples in other regions of the world and their own matters.
Responsible economics needs to be driven by competition on a global scale without government intervention, regulation, and taxation. This in turn will spurn the ingenuity that leads to growth, productivity and opportunities. And if greed grows too large, let the corporations fall with their mistakes so there is room for the fair and responsible.
Education needs to rediscover its roots in the basics of reading, writing, the sciences and mathematics. Higher learning is more about the growth of the individual verses the pomp and circumstance, the need to be perceptually the best, unsubsidized by government and controlled in scope by the same ingenuity of competition and openness of free market. Again, let those who fail their responsibility make room for new opportunity without the protection of beurocratic force fields.
But with the human spirit , there always comes hope and next we will discuss where our hope will take us.