This video at the end of this article is an example of living ingeniously. If 2.3 million homes have been foreclosed upon since 2008 where are the people? Of course they have managed to a greater or lesser extent, but at what dislocation and at what social expense?
Perhaps we have been living with a fantastical notion of what we really need to be happy. Perhaps we are appreciating that we have been living in an era of limits. That the remortgaging of all we owned to support a lifestyle that was ultimately unsupportable was a form of mass hypnosis from which there has been a rude awakening. Living our lives quarter by quarter as corporations currently do to maximize return in the short term is a bad idea.
“Flip that House!” “Property never loses value.” These were the watchwords of the first decade of the century, as was the hubris of “manifest destiny” that has been ethos of generations of American folklore. Now that the fallacy of “starving the beast” in order to limit a rich and functioning government is beginning to be recognized for what it is: the crippling of an advanced and benevolent country.
Old habits die hard as they conflict with the image we wanted (once upon a time) to project. The excesses of the first decade of the new century have taken their toll. The glorious myth of American exceptionalism has been deflated in the face of cuts to education, police, fire, medical care, highways, and rail…the infrastructure that made life in America the dream of many.
Perhaps the successful survivors of the difficult economic times we are enduring will be the realization that we must start again to be self-sufficient. Perhaps we have been ignoring the fact that happiness is the reward one gets from living simply.
The wealth of our country has bubbled up to those who have been poor husbands of this wealth for the many who now are forced to lower expectations for a life as abundant as their parents had.
Education is creating a generation of servants indentured to pay for what, when I was in school, used to be essentially free. We must project decades ahead for a future that will promote the happiness of most, not the happiness of the few.
We, most of us, will not be happy if a minority of our brothers live well while a small minority live opulent lives at the expense of our children’s families. This is not to say that men of exceptional ingenuity or energy should not benefit from their efforts, it is to say that there must be a commonality of purpose, not a smug dismissal of those whose achievements are less.
For those of us still wondering where we will sleep tomorrow, here’s one woman who is her own agent and made things happen.