Tuesday, December 23, 2008

• A New And Different Shattering Of Assumptions

You have done your share. You work exhausting hours, sometimes at two jobs, and you have succeeded by any definition in fashioning a good life for yourself and your family. You accepted that while you were taking care of your part, others, some perhaps with more knowledge, power, influence and wealth, were taking care of theirs. Good for you, and well, … not so much.

Assumptions are a foundation of society’s functioning processes. As you travel at 55 miles an hour down a busy highway, you assume. You assume your automobile’s wheels will not suddenly part ways and decide to retire in a roadside ditch. You assume others driving in the opposite direction will continue enjoyment of life long enough to pass by your left window at a relative 110 miles an hour, with no sudden change of heart that might cause your abrupt transition into a hood ornament.

You assume that those you have elected to office will ardently carry their impassioned campaign trail promises to Washington or The White House. You assume that all knowing sages who have been given the keys to the National Safe will be diligent in the management of its contents. You assume that the Harvard educated captains of industry will manage the corporate world in testament to their prodigious capacities. You assume that others must have special insights far exceeding your own on the big picture.

We all assume. We have to. The faculties of human endeavor expect it. Without assumptions, the evolving ritual dances of the social, political and other conventions would disjunct into paralysis. Our behavior holds certain expectations of its ambience. In the event that those expectations are violated, we have enacted laws that will impose a collective retribution.

Current economic, political, corporate and social events are shattering our assumptions with impudent and invasive intrusion into the core of our lives. Our centers of gravity are undergoing some dislocation somewhat similar to that experienced three generations back during the Great Depression. The global interconnection and interdependence allows for a more pervasive impact on the earth’s population by the current version of high anxiety.

Do you remember the day when that parent you thought archaic told you, “Things are rarely as they seem?” This assertion pertained to perceptions. You were convinced that government bailouts were foreign concepts too far down the politically impossible spectrum to warrant serious thought. Now you listen to unwavering shouts from experts telling you that bailing out banks and financial institutions is not only good for you, it is mandatory for your future well-being and peace of mind.

Will the best-connected voices, the CEOs cap-in-hand, be the most rewarded in the bailout line-up? The taxpayer will continue to borrow trillions of dollars to enable these bailouts of Wall Street, and it will be left to our children and grandchildren to figure out how these debts will be repaid. Can’t we just assume that they will? That would be easier. The dogmatic nudging of our perceptions is disquieting. We are perhaps observing, and financing, the dawning of a new capitalistic system and a metamorphosis of the corporate entity.

Surely somebody knows what he or she is doing. The assumptions return. This new Obama administration with its dozens of experts must know something we don’t. It will make things better with a stimulus package on top of the bailout packages. This stimulus package will be the biggest in history, setting new incomprehensible levels of national debt. Shall we assume once again that for that singular reason, this package will work?

The cycles of our presence on this Earth are not all within our control, and these times are an experience along our journey for which our spirits will draw a learning. New assumptions will advance on our percepts, reframing our outlooks and expectations, and your parent was right, things will rarely ever be quite as they seem.

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