I think one of the things that I worry about in terms of my own personality is that I've become jaded, or that I've lost the idealism I had when I was in college. As is often the case, a little perspective corrects me.
Given my previous post about work hours, I was interested to keep following the comments on that post I referenced from 37signals. That's when I came across this in the comments...
Further, the notions that we can: ‘find freedom’, ‘exercise ownership .. of happiness’, and ‘choose interactions’ is again, the me-generation, post-modern illusion. Here’s why: it again espouses the belief that each of us can sit on our own mountaintops, controlling our happiness (exercising ownership), being free, etc.
This freedom doesn’t exist - people have tried to live this way before (the Romans and British come to mind) - and it isn’t freedom. It’s about higher degrees of choice making based on false visions of self-fulfillment and enlightenment. It’s the same lunacy that means that when you’ve reached the apex, feeling it’s not enough, you then have to learn about Kaballah in order to “really” find freedom.
How horrible is that? That doesn't sound like someone who is wise, it sounds like someone who has been so beaten into the ground and is jaded that there's no hope.
American culture, among other things, seems to indicate that looking out for your own happiness is selfish and wrong. I don't get that, especially as it relates to work and being a functioning part of society. You've got all kinds of people saying that there's this awful "me generation" or some such nonsense, in a country that is still the richest in the world yet takes the least amount of vacation of any industrialized nation.
My grandfather worked for the same place for more than 30 years and retired. That was how it was done, and he's enjoying a comfortable retirement. My parents have had many jobs, career changes and no allegiance to them on the part of their employers.
Now in my generation, we have a rapidly evolving economy with new industries that didn't even exist ten years ago. Things like "green tech" will spawn countless new industries in another ten years. Everything has changed when it comes to how we fit into The System. What some see as selfishness to me is self preservation, and the avoidance of crap our parents had to deal with.
I firmly believe that the manifestation of this is a strong desire to do something we can really believe in. Unfortunately, the focus seems to be on kids graduating from college expecting things to be easy or coddled or whatever, but come on... that's not a majority, and it's certainly not any different than any generation before us. (As an aside, who can blame those kids when the grown ups were selling them an easy life by way of college all through high school?)
I firmly believe that anything is possible when it comes to finding satisfying work and meaningful connections with others, and doing so requires that you challenge what is perceived as truth. No one has it all figured out, so why would you rely on others who believe they have?