07.29.2013 1

Surviving the New Normal

By David Bozeman

While political activism and writing have always been my passions, I always held a day job to pay the bills.  At least till October of last year, when my job of 19 years closed up shop.  Suddenly, unemployment became not a mere topic on a cable news roundtable, it became reality.  I have since returned to work, but like most of the once-unemployed, I have become somewhat jaded.  I write the following to share a few nuggets of wisdom and to remind those facing economic uncertainty that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Observation #1.  Working and unemployed Americans have every right to complain, and sometimes it does help to vent.  Unemployment not only shatters one’s self-esteem, it can leave even the most conservative job-seeker (such as myself) leading a revolution for the downtrodden!  At some point, economic reality leaves the old and unemployable running on a treadmill, and your dream job becomes any job you can get.  “19 years in the same position — are you capable of learning anything else?”  And the expertly-worded resume you posted online?  Not likely read by human eyes but scanned electronically for keywords and then sucked into a cyber-wastebin.  At least you can enjoy the consolation of junk emails overflowing your inbox, selling everything from online schooling to life insurance to Ponzi schemes.  As an added bonus, with all the low-wage and part-time jobs predominating the market, it’s not like your life’s calling has passed you by.

Observation #2.  So, while you have the right to play the martyr, I don’t recommend it.  If the following sounds trite and clichéd, it is no less true — success often hinges not on the hand you were dealt but in how you play it.  The victim you see yourself as today tends to stick around and color everything you attempt.

While many circumstances of economic reality stink, you, as an individual, don’t. You were not placed on earth to be docile and put-upon.  You were not designed to be passive — you are an active participant in your own destiny.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  Stay away from the downers and purveyors of gloom and doom.  Everyone wants to be the first to relay bad news, but if your friends and relatives have little or nothing else to offer, spend as little time with them as possible.  And if you can’t find a real life mentor or life coach, be your own.

Furthermore, the following tips may prove invaluable. For example, check your spam folder often.  I found a job offer hiding in there.  Also, don’t sever any ties — your former co-workers can likely lead you to your next position, even if it’s one you don’t plan to hold permanently.  And, of course, don’t burn any bridges. Never say you will never go back to a former line of work, as you may well be passing up your lifeline or a bridge to a brighter future.

And I’d like to share a few words with our leaders. The poor and unemployed hunger for hope, which is sorely missing from the daily news cycles and roundtable shows.  Don’t talk about the poor and unemployed, talk to them.  View them not as a societal burden but an untapped potential.  Weeks of unemployment drain the spirit, and not since Reagan has anyone championed the average American as a proud and integral component of the American character.  We on the right tend to recoil at those who rely on government help, but, rather than judge them, maybe we should challenge them to raise their expectations of themselves (while, of course, unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit to create jobs). After all, their individual worth may have never been exalted by anyone, least of all the faceless bureaucrats who comprise the system.  The voices in the public square are too busy shouting at one another to stop and revive the sagging sense of self worth and weakening faith in our founding institutions that far too many feel.

Our crisis today is not just economic in nature, it is spiritual.  And finally, liberal trope notwithstanding, economic status is not a death sentence.  The nabobs of negativity may fashion themselves the cold hard realists, but the old truisms stand, one of them being that fortunes often strikes when you least expect it.

David Bozeman, former Libertarian Party Chairman, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

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