Wednesday, October 28, 2020

China Syndrome

Some people are just more athletic than you. Some clearly seem to be luckier. Some are better looking, some are more ambitious and some are just smarter. This is a hard to accept concept for many in the developed world but not so in China. The masses not only accept it but are grateful for the benefits the work of the few bring to the many.

China has pulled an astonishing number people out of abject poverty in the last 40 years. For all the legitimate "the ends does NOT justify the means" discussion about their policies, this massive quality of living transformation is undisputed. Many if not most were villagers living in the countryside who migrated to urban areas. Millions were urban multi-generational poor born in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Transforming the lives of hundreds of millions of people this quickly who previously did not have enough to eat, clean drinking water, stable housing and access to basic medical care is unprecedented in human history.

China's economic achievements are not news to me or anyone who pays attention to such things.

What I recently learned about Chinese societal norms and culture that helped facilitate this is news to me

Like all nations, China has some extraordinarily brilliant minds. They also have significant numbers of highly organized and driven individuals whose work in the public and (semi) private sectors are a major reason why things turned around the way they did. Ordinary Chinese are grateful their fellow super-citizens are where they are and are doing what they are doing. They know the efforts of their elite compatriots is the reason the countries' standard of living has increased exponentially in a very short people of time. If wholesale jealously exists about the elite's lofty status, it's neither written about nor discussed publicly. (though that perceived silence is a different discussion).

In the Western world and, in particular the U.S., things and perceptions are often very different. In our endless "have nots versus the haves" public dialogs and protests, we mostly hear about how corrupt our system is and how the 1%'ers have designed the system to enrich themselves while keeping the others down.

One can't ignore there is enormous advantage to being born into a connected and wealthy family . It's even more true that notable numbers of the offspring of the wealthy will live very comfortably for the remainder of their lives without ever contributing anything of societal value. It's tempting to demonize these "idiot sons and daughters".

What virtually every study of wealth in the U.S. has revealed, however, is considerably more than half of wealthy Americans are self-made. Back to the beginning of this piece-they are more driven than you and are probably more intelligent. But because of them, you have an iPhone. And commercial jets to fly on. And they will operate on your heart if it is not working properly. The list is very, very long.

Our culture usually doesn't bother to dig too deep to where your money came from. If you have it, well, you're just one of those exploiting 1%'ers.

It's not possible to attempt to understand the very complex situation here at hand in a couple hundred words. 

But let's drop the entitlement groupthink and recognize and appreciate the efforts of these gifted producers- their output has benefited more than a billion people such comfort and care that royalty only 2 centuries ago wouldn't recognize.


Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Phoned it in- another perspective.

"Hey boss- not going to be able to come in to work today. It's my back..again"

Saying something like this is more than likely going to get an eye-roll from someone..very possibly the person you just said it to.

Possibly more suspicious to the listening audience is when others hear someone is not coming to work for some purported mental health issue. I'm not talking about the now ubiquitous "mental health day" that seemingly everyone seems to ask for and take from time to time in the 21st century. I'm talking about the type of mental health issue often mapped to very serious outcomes..including the most serious outcome of them all. ("Gosh...just horrible..nobody knew").

Unless an illness can be seen under a microscope or from an MRI, a sizable percentage of people think it is a sham. They think the system is being gamed. And it is true there will always be people who will game the system. But most unable to answer the bell for these reasons are hurting, often badly, and they know you don't believe them.

Chronic back issues and mental health are clearly very different things though both can stop people in their tracks. If you are fortunate enough to struggle with neither, I can understand how the idea of carrying your weight- and some of the weight of others- can be disillusioning. Especially when some are claiming they are not well but, in fact, are almost certainly capable of fulfilling their duties. Just remember, however, the ones who are unjustifiably "phoning it in"- be grateful that you are who you are instead of ruminating how inadequate they are. You'll be an exponentially happier person.

People carrying mental health issues also struggle mightily with the stigma. If you feel the urge to judge them or verbally beat them up- they've already beat you to it. 

Awareness has been elevated in recent years but there will not be any wholesale change any time soon. It's not a shining moment on our collective humanity. The boss or co-worker who exclaims "I'm getting screwed over" when someone misses work or another obligation is really just exhibiting another shade of victimhood- but not the type typically associated with that word.