EP26: The Hard Reset We Needed
The COVID-19 pandemic is arguably the most traumatic and disruptive thing most of us have ever experienced in our lifetimes. But is it exactly the hard reset we needed?
For the longest time, I’ve been thinking about the downside of prosperity.
America, circa 2019, was arguably the most prosperous nation in world history.
We had so much.
And we took most of it for granted.
We had everything.
And we appreciated nothing.
(OK, that may be a little extreme, but few of us truly appreciated all we had to the degree that we probably should have.)
Spoiled and Entitled
In my mind, if America were a person, it would be a spoiled 16-year-old brat from Huntington Beach.
“This, like, iPhone, is, like, FOUR MONTHS OLD! MOM! WTF? I NEED the new one. Are you even listening to me?”
Or a cocky, rich frat kid from Chicago driving a new BMW his parents gave him as a high school graduation gift.
“Dude, I can SO hook you up. This stuff is KILLER. How can I afford it? Trust fund money, beeyotch!”
The problem with having everything is that “having everything” becomes your baseline, your norm and your expectation.
It’s all you know.
It’s your only frame of reference.
It’s your only perspective on the world, and the only lens through which you can see.
The downside of living in Entitlement City is that everywhere else looks like a slum.
And when you find yourself living in that rarified air, from a purely logical perspective, you have nowhere to go but down.
This Was Us
Truth be told, in my experience, very often those who have the most are some of the unhappiest people you’ll ever meet.
This is admittedly just one person’s highly subjective opinion, but when I look back at America, circa 2019, I see a lot of unhappy people.
To what do you aspire when you already have everything?
What are your concerns when you have no concerns about your next meal or your next paycheck?
When you have everything, you have the luxury of being outraged over nothing.
When you no longer have to focus on basics like food, shelter and survival, you find yourself in the enviable position of being able to spend your time championing social issues that, at the end of the day, really have no discernible impact on things like food, shelter and survival.
You have the luxury of being upset about having to wait an extra 10 minutes for a table at your favorite restaurant.
Or being pissed that that the local Audi dealer doesn’t have an A8 in stock in the exact color you wanted.
Prosperity distorts perception.
Prosperity invites discontent into places and situations where it would never otherwise be, of its own weight and accord.
Updating a Classic
One of my all-time favorite quotes is “familiarity breeds contempt.”
I think we need to coin a new phrase to describe what we’re talking about here: prosperity breeds discontent.
Because it does.
This was us, circa 2019.
Prosperous and discontent.
The Hard Reset We Needed
I sincerely believe that, when the current pandemic is all said and done, we will look back on it as one of the best things that ever happened to us.
Because it’s given us – all of us – a hard reset on our perspectives.
And it’s made us reassess our priorities.
All of them.
All of us, one way or another, are guilty of taking things for granted.
Like clean water.
And having a job.
And access to transportation.
And being healthy.
And being able to move about freely, to go wherever we want, whenever we want.
And having a roof over our head.
And having multiple shops and stores where we can go get whatever want, whenever we want.
And having the ability to attend a house of worship.
COVID-19 has taken some of those things away from us.
What We’ve Lost
It’s sadly true that you never truly appreciate something until you’ve lost it.
During this pandemic, lots of us have lost lots of stuff.
We’ve lost jobs.
We’ve lost our ability to travel.
We’ve lost access to many of the places we love to go.
We’ve lost the freedoms inherent in our normal society.
We’ve lost wealth.
We’ve lost our health.
We’ve lost our very lives.
What We’ve Gained
But for those of us who will be fortunate enough to come out of this pandemic intact when it ends – and, make no mistake, it WILL end – we will have gained so much, in terms of…
…having greater appreciation for the things we possess.
…taking fewer things for granted.
…being less entitled.
…treasuring basic rights and freedoms to a much greater degree.
…valuing our friends, and our access to them.
…valuing our family, and our access to them.
…valuing our lives, and realizing how fleeting life really is.
…our perspectives being sharper and more in focus.
…our priorities being more proper and more appropriate.
Truth is, we have a chance at a fresh start.
A new beginning.
A new opportunity to adjust the way we look at things.
A new opportunity to adjust the way we look at everything.
Perception vs. Reality
They say that perception matters more than reality.
In the final analysis, here is what I think the end result of COVID-19 on American culture will be:
What we will gain in perception – priority, appreciation and other things of a spiritual, intangible nature – will far exceed what we will lose in reality – income, portfolio valuations and other things of a temporal, material nature.
The net of the negative will be a positive.
And that’s why I think this pandemic may end up being the greatest thing that ever happened to us.
It was the hard reset we needed…
All of us.
Brad Powell NorthRidge Church