Crazy and Desperate
“Feeling lost, crazy and desperate belongs to a good life as much as optimism, certainty and reason.”
Alain de Botton
I know so many people these days—smart, well-educated people, hard-working people—who face the end of every month desperate about where the money will come from to pay their bills. It's a conundrum we in the Western world haven't faced since the great depression. Young people, college graduates, cannot find jobs that will support them. They end up living with parents, delaying marriage and child-rearing, until they have some kind of ever-more-distant security. And, not just young people. Folks in their so-called “golden years” hauling the coin jar to Wal-Mart to buy a few more days worth of groceries. In the meantime, rents and food prices are skyrocketing. A friend told me his son in the Oakland, CA area pays $2,000.00 per month for a one-bedroom apartment—more than half his income.
Desperation makes people do strange things. It's enough to drive some of us support a presidential candidate who talks of building a two-thousand mile long wall on our southern border, as though that would be the solution to all our problems. Anything, they say, that will change the status quo. Desperation also fuels outrageous accusations. We tell ourselves we shouldn't be in this situation, that someone else is to blame, that our government has betrayed us, and so on. Rarely do we look at the toll on our treasury that fifteen continuous years of war has taken. The money that could have been spent on schools and roads, research and bridges, upgrading our power grid and our out-dated technology, and a million other beneficial and worthy projects is going into an endless war machine, and subsequent efforts to rehabilitate the thousands of men and women crippled in body and soul by that fruitless crusade.
Sometimes, people of privilege could bring about the greatest change by changing their own ideas of “how things ought to be.” Feeling crazy and desperate can be a productive, inventive part of life. After all, it is no one's birth-right to live on easy street for all time. Perhaps we could just take a deep breath, and ask ourselves why we feel we deserve to have everything our way forever. Maybe the good life includes lost, crazy and desperate. Maybe it's someone else's turn to experience optimism, certainty and success.
In the Spirit,