Can we get so used to crazy that we forget everything we have?
Let’s say it’s possible.
Concerning the economy, and between Yellow going bankrupt, the Fed eyeing another rate hike, and Moody’s knocking American banks down a peg, too much bad news forces tunnel vision to kick in. Like a mountaineer hearing a deep rumble up ahead, we hunker down. It’s an honest reaction, but how far can fight or flight take us? If crazy piled on crazy drives all perspective over the side, then our troubles are just starting.
Granted, survival drama steals the show. As every good story proves, we’re naturally drawn to disasters, problems of our own making, boundaries broken. Stories on reflection and gratitude don’t exactly move newspapers.
But with another mini-apocalypse circling the track, I’m peeling my eyes away from the screen—and trying to remember one fact. By being alive in 2023, we are all part of the one percent.
Memes of the day
Even on the day from hell, you and I are part of the luckiest one percent of one percent who ever lived. And no, before you ask, I’m not talking about the one percent of ultra-wealthy—the unshowered activists who camped out on Wall Street circa 2011 are also included.
Even though they’d rather not be.
In his Substack Column ‘Future History’ Daniel Jeffries lays it out:
“ Today is the most amazing time to be alive in history… by a huge margin.
We’re wealthier, with better food security, healthier, living longer, and better educated. We’ve got amazing systems like the modern wonder of logistics that can get a package from a factory in Asia, ship it on a massive container ship and get it to you less than 48 hours later.
If you’re alive today you’ve been protected by an invisible shield that was built slowly and then faster and faster, as our ideas, creations and inventions stacked up and reinforced each other. That shield leaves us safer and living longer than ever before in history. We have inventions and discoveries like antibiotics that kill all kinds of bugs that usually killed us, MRI machines that can see inside of us and spot cancer before it takes over, and crumple zones in cars that make getting on the road safe.
Because of air conditioning we can live in places that were basically intolerable only fifty years ago. Airplanes can take you anywhere in the world and they’re amazingly safe.”
True enough, if you think about it.
We talk a lot about data, and the numbers only flesh this out. In metric after metric—crop yields, literacy, life expectancy, computer memory getting insanely affordable—humanity’s prospects are trending up.
Killer perspective, if you stop and think about it.
Questions, Ball games, and the Hero’s Journey
Positive. Negative. However the story turns, the hero’s journey tells us that it doesn’t end where we think.
For all the innovations that have made life easier, and easier to take for granted, there’s some gaping questions below the surface.
What should we do with our amazing lives?
One percent or not, and given that humans are learning, limit-testing, dumb decision-making machines—what principles (as opposed to certainties) do we need to grow and flourish?
Here’s one for the road.
Without the restraints and challenges that made our forebears who they are, (and without repeating their mistakes), how do we find the grit and character most of them had in spades?
All gains incur a cost.
Talk show host Dennis Prager once said that when he was a kid in the mid-fifties, everyone smoked at the baseball game. They also dressed up—women in dresses, men in suits.
Today, no one smokes at the game. Strict rules and the anti-Tobacco folks made sure of that long ago. But the fighting, vandalism, drunken f-bombs, and post-game rioting that we casually ignore would make the fifties’ chainsmoker’s head spin.
Make of that what you will.
But when the news says everything’s crumbling, remember what we have. As the journey reminds us, don’t forget that crumbling times have a sneaky way of forging traits—like courage and steadfastness—that can’t otherwise be built. Perspective’s everything, one percenter.
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Until next time,