Monday, June 8, 2015

Seeing How We Fit In

Years ago, work seemed to be a matter of survival.  I'm reading a fictional account of pre-Revolutionary America, and the value of work is so personal, so life-giving compared to how work fits into many of or lives today.  On my own team at work, we have people who perform tasks that would seem unbelievably specialized if compared to the work going on in the story.  My team and I would surely have starved in pre-Revolutionary America.

The value my team and I provide to society is real, but it is risky work.  We are so specialized, that disruptions in law, policy or markets could really have a strongly negative impact on our value to society.  I imagine being the world's preeminent expert on rotary-dial telephone design, if what we do isn't valued anymore, we're not valued anymore.  With the pace of change it is probable that at one point, we may be simultaneously near the top our game and reaching the end of our value to society.

Our society has changed.  I joke that "My garden is at Earthfare (a local grocery store)."  But if my income were to vanish, a garden would be helpful.

We each have gone from fitting into society as a whole, individual unit to being a mere cog in a wheel.  In one way, our society is better off for it - society benefits from the contributions of me and my team. In other way though, we are all more fragile and fear is so pervasive, that we hardly know our own fragility is there anymore.

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