Occasionally I receive e-mails asking me if I think there's any Hope. My preferred subject here at DOTE is Reality, which seems to preclude Hope, at least for American society considered as a whole. Today I'll present the views of Arianna Huffington, whose book Third World America is required reading for those who can not face the future without believing that things might get better. I've written my own short commentary on Hope at the end.
Huffington recently appeared on Tech Ticker in Democracy is not a spectator sport —
The Great Disconnect
Huffington joined Aaron Task and our new economics editor Dan Gross to discuss what she calls the "disconnect between the news in past months about the recovery and the reality in people's lives."
While she is a polarizing figure, many progressives and conservatives alike share Huffington's main concern: If America doesn't change course soon, we will become a "third world" country with no middle class and limited upward mobility for our children because of cronyism and a failed education system.
"Democracy is not a spectator sport," says Huffington. "The most imperative thing right now is for people to not be waiting on the sidelines."
In her book, Huffington tells stories of under and unemployed Americans who are volunteering their time and expertise as a way of helping their communities - and themselves by keeping skills fresh (and developing new ones).
The Huffington Post has a list of 7 things you can do to prevent America from ever becoming a Third World Country. Here's the Hope, so without further ado—
As Arianna outlines in Third World America, there are compelling reasons to fear that the United States is in danger of becoming a third world nation. But the country's decline will only happen if we let it. Here's what you can do to make sure it doesn't.
Step 1: Share Your Story
Our descent into Third World America may not be televised...but it will be blogged, tweeted, posted on Facebook, covered with a camera phone, and uploaded to YouTube. And by shining the spotlight on it, we may be able to prevent it. Read More
Step 2: Tap Into Your Resilience
Inner strength and resilience make it possible for us to not just survive the economic crisis but to transform our lives. Read More
Step 3: Build Your Financial Literacy
There are many things we can do, right now, to take matters into our own hands and move our families to safer financial ground. Read More
Step 4: Move Your Money
While it may not be in our power to change the system single-handedly, we do have the power to take our money out of the banks that undermined our economy and move it to more responsible banks to help rebuild it. Read More
It's becoming clearer by the day that we can't save the middle class and keep America a first world nation without each of us making a personal commitment and taking action. Now, more than ever, we must mine the most underrated leadership resource available to us: ourselves. Read More
Step 6: Hold Our Leaders Accountable
If politicians put their finger in the wind to see which way it's blowing before deciding what to do, well, let's change the direction of the wind. Read More
Step 7: Meetup And Make A Difference
Watch Arianna discuss ways to prevent Third World America:
Commentary On Hope
Now that you've gone through Arianna's program, you may have a warm, fuzzy feeling. I certainly don't want to throw cold water on you at this point. Everything Huffington says makes sense with the exception of Step 6: Hold Our Leaders Accountable. Our political system is corrupt beyond redemption. Forget about it. There is no Democracy. Watching the elaborate games buffoons play—it is called politics—is indeed a spectator sport.
Loved ones, families & communities are all you've got. When you lose your job, and you lose your house, and whatever else befalls you, it will not be politics that will save you. In fact, it was very likely politics that put you in that deep hole. It will be your family, friends, churches and local community centers that save you. Remember that.
Besides your loved ones and community, cultivating a spiritual view of things is essential to getting the most out of life. I am not asking you to place your faith in God, although you can certainly do that if you like. After all, Faith is the time-honored solution to the Human Condition, which as you've probably noticed, is more than a little lacking, more than a little disappointing
There's more to Life, the Universe and Everything than the pedestrian fact that you just received your walking papers. Spirituality is about transcendence. In America, the spiritual journey starts with an active, conscious, personal rejection of I Consume, Therefore I Am. Life is precious, but new shoes, especially when you've already got perfectly adequate footware, are not. On the other hand, if you don't have any shoes, and somebody gives you some, that's precious too. You've got to figure out what's important and what is not. There was some bogus schoolboy Latin I learned many, many years ago
illegitimi non carborundum
which means "don't let the bastards grind you down." There's your Hope—the strength to survive & thrive comes from within you. That strength is supported by those you love and your community, and just as they support you, you support them.
There is no hope for America, but there is hope for you
None of this is easy, there is no Free Lunch. On the other hand, those who are considered "successful" in America are usually those who have learned the least about what Life is about. Wisdom is born of suffering. So if you're looking for some wisdom, don't ask Warren Buffett or Charlie Munger—they don't know didley squat.
Here is what Arianna Huffington and I don't have the sklll to tell you, but Emily Dickinson did.
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.