I’ve had it! I cannot abide one more comment from a talking head, member of Congress, President or passerby about the debt ceiling debate. I have almost reached my limit with Jon Stewart and Paul Krugman–almost, but not quite, because I don’t know what I’d do without them.
Joan Boryshenko, a professor, stepped outside her discipline to write a book she called Fried that offers a fairly clinical description of burnout that resonates in this public-private context. Based on her own experience, and extensive research into the phenomenon, Boryshenko depicts burnout as the psychic void that develops when the object of one’s desire is pursued with such intensity for such a long time that a point of no return is reached. In other words, the desire ceases to matter. Whatever it was, is lost. Not only does one lose sight of the goal, but also the reason for having it in the first place.
This state of no desire, no will, is no laughing matter. Our nation was built on the principle of desire: the vision of individuals seeking to create their lives and shape their destinies according to their free will. It’s a promise that has lived in the heart of every school child in our land. But this vision of creating a life is slipping away from too many Americans in more than a material way. We live in a post rages-to-riches age when people exhaust themselves staying in place–like gerbils running a wheel. A decent quality of life in America–a life full of quaint notions like fresh food, good schools, a secure job and roof over one’s head–are givens of the past. These fundamental premises of the American way have given way to mass insecurity. Anxiety is our national Zeitgeist.
When anxiety becomes too prevalent, connections fray. When people stop believing in the goodness of their fellows–when bankers walk free amid a landscape of foreclosures–distrust sets in and people tune out from their leaders. That’s where the hatred of government comes from.
Mr. President, Members of Congress, welcome to my world. Prattle on about the next ten years; the rest of us are deeply mired in the anxiety-filled, burned-out present.