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Life is a Marathon April 14, 2016

Posted by Peter Varhol in Uncategorized.
Tags: ,

I am truly disturbed when I hear politicians and pundits talk about reclaiming the American Dream.  Like it is something that got lost at some point.

So let me start here. I am of the Boomer generation, yes, obviously we had everything go our way, throughout our careers, and we exploited the system and our Fellow Man to grab as much as we could.  We are the fat cats, and had an exceptionally great life.

Except that the year I graduated college, unemployment was the highest it had ever been since the Great Depression. And at a high of 11 percent, it was even higher than it was in the Great Recession of the late 2000s.  And inflation topped out at over 17 percent annually in the next year or two.  We have never seen that in the last century, except for my coming of age.  Our greatest earning years were interrupted by 9/11 and the Great Recession, and I won’t even get into the milder recession in the Boston area in the early 1990s.

Yup, many of us were out of work. I’m not sure about you, but I went into the military.  The pay was low even by the standards of the day, but I had an effective start to a professional career.

My parents, card-carrying members of Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation, lived as children through the Great Depression. Many barely got by, and many more migrated in the vain hope that they could feed their families.  Millions of Americans were killed or wounded in World War II.  My father stormed Utah Beach on June 6, 1944, but was only wounded, so I am here today.

Later, 58,000 young American men and women were killed in a far-away country called Vietnam (and I won’t even get into the Vietnamese losses). Several of them were my elder peers, growing up.  Tens of thousands of others were scarred for life by the horrific experience.  In between was Korea, which cost tens of thousands more lives.

Yup, they lived the American Dream.

I could go back further (not necessarily with my family), but why bother? My point?  I don’t believe that the idealized American Dream ever existed as it is portrayed in myth and legend, in the media and by the politicians and pundits.

And that life is a marathon, not a sprint. Well-meaning but terribly misguided people like Starbucks’ Howard Schultz (linked to above) seem to think that a vision was lost, a reality that existed and was banked on no longer does.

I’d argue that his so-called vision was a hallucination that never existed. Sure, maybe for some people, who had everything to begin with, or those for whom all of the breaks went in a positive direction.  People like, well, Howard Schultz.

We cannot measure ourselves by the circumstances by which we come of age. We can’t look back at 24 and say that circumstances have treated us poorly in life.  We cannot take our measure of life until it is over.  And we are all individuals, with individual needs and desires in our lives, our careers, our emotional connections, and our fulfillments.  Everyone’s goal is different.

Howard Schultz, you are more than wrong; you are dangerous.



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