Sometimes, I don’t have much to say. So I wait until something bugs me enough or motivates me sufficiently to post my rant. I look for an issue that seems urgent and pervasive in my life and perhaps in others’ as well, something that affects more than one area of my life.
I found one: waiting. To me, the opposite of waiting is taking responsibility and action.
One of my best friends is leaving the state to find work. She simply cannot make her house payment on her current income. Period. She and I have both looked for jobs for her in-state to no avail. She held on as long as she could, but eventually had to cut her losses and give notice at work. She has even explained to her co-workers that every day she spends in Michigan is costing her opportunities on the East Coast.
You see, many people in Michigan are waiting for the economy to turn around. They are waiting for the low-skill, good-paying jobs to come back. What they don’t comprehend is that Michigan has undergone a fundamental, structural change in its economy, from one of manufacturing, middle-class jobs to one of food-stamp-eligible, minimum-wage, tourism and big-box jobs. You cannot wait out a cycle that has completed its course and is never coming back. Those with skills and confidence, such as my friend, are simply leaving. It doesn’t matter if there are a million more jobs in Michigan, if working at them full-time still qualifies you for food stamps. This is the distinction between quantity and quality. This is what Republican state officials haven’t figured out yet, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of us haven’t. Ghost towns out west have a 0% unemployment rate: no jobs, but also nobody looking for employment. Sometimes a decrease in the unemployment rate is just a reflection of people giving up looking for jobs and/or leaving the state to find employment elsewhere. It is no indication whatsoever of a growing middle class.
My friend will attend an Orthodox church in Maryland. She has more hope for the local church in Lansing (that I quit attending) than I do. She sees a whole cadre of people that are waiting for the current leadership to leave, die, step aside, or whatever. Those people do exist. I have met some of them.
To me, this is another variation on the waiting theme: once the current leadership is out of power, there can be a renaissance. What she doesn’t understand is that the people waiting in the wings to return are ageing, moving, and dying off as time goes by. It would not surprise me if she found a few of them in Maryland, if only because they could not find enough work in Michigan for them to keep their houses, either.
She tells me that there are many wonderful, giving people at Holy Trinity in Lansing. I agree. However, it doesn’t matter how wonderful the 99% are if the intransigent 1% are running the show and the 99% are not taken seriously or listened to in any way. Been there, done that. As Edward Demming once said: it’s always the system. Individuals that want to be part of the system must adapt to its culture, even if that involves selling baklava to the poor while the local economy collapses so they can fix the parking lot.
This is a major problem that I have had with many Christians: they wait instead of taking responsibility for the issues they face. They are waiting for a sign, for God to move, for Jesus to return, or to win the lottery and then their life will be so much better. I’ve lost all respect for that attitude. People, do something! Even if it is wrong, you can still learn from it. The alternative is to watch your backside grow while the world passes you by.
I think about all the people that are waiting for their supervisor to retire, die, or whatever, so they can get promoted. What happens if that person is still there 20 years from now? What if they leave and management decides to not replace them because there just isn’t the money in the money in the budget? Or your supervisor’s nephew, without one day’s experience, is given the job? Then what? How many genuine job opportunities got ignored while waiting?
Why am I still in Michigan? Because I won’t take my sick husband away from seeing his grandsons. I am not staying here for me. I have even told him that if the day comes that he requires a nursing home, we’re moving because there isn’t anything special about nursing homes in Michigan. Two things keep me here: my husband and selling the house. That’s it.
How much of your life are you willing to spend waiting? Others are not waiting. They are taking responsibility for their lives. If you are waiting, you are being left behind.