What Is Behind Our Uncivil War?

The daily dose of vulgarity continues to distract our country from very real solutions. We stand at one of those fundamental turning points in how people live and work. There are quite a few casualties but the biggest seems to be casualty of thought.

For years, employment and unemployment statistics have been a political statement. The truth? 48% of America’s workers characterize themselves as “underemployed.” Of course, people are afraid. Of course, we have unrest. But, our political leaders, on both sides of the fence, failed America by not having the courage to tell us we need to fix this. I will repeat. We need to fix the world. No politician and no political party have the power to do that. Sure, they can help. But only we, as individuals, have the power to change the game. For example, each one of us sees a problem to solve that no one else sees. No one will tell us to how to solve that unique problem. When our political leaders promise to rescue us and we buy that we will not take action. We further infantilize many people who are barely getting by. We need leaders telling us this is the time to learn how to change, to reinvent, to become active learners, and to define how each of us can become part of the solution. Wait for coal jobs? Pine for JC Penneys to come back?

We are wasting precious time. As the rate of change continues to accelerate, waiting is actually leaving more of us in the dust.

I am alarmed that at the very moment all of us could be engaged in right action, so many of us stare aghast at our screens with all that is happening “out there” when every one of us has something that can be done to change the world – for the better.

Underneath the tumult of change, technology isn’t taking jobs. It is taking tasks. As we remove these tasks new freedoms emerge. But, the human animal, after years of being tethered to workstations and cubicles, responds to freedom, quite often, with terror. Of course, it is comforting as we listen to the promises of calculating politicians. Well, our political system seems to be more paralyzed than the rest of us.

So many of the 48% of our underemployed are focused on the benefits of our past being taken away. Make no mistake, underemployment is the scourge of our current culture. It is the sense of being underutilized and never having enough to get by. But, it is poverty of thought that is our greatest enemy.

Someone called me this past week who works in a program filled with people struggling to get back to work. She said, “Of course they cannot afford your programs. What do you suggest?” I suggested they buy one top-selling paperback per month regarding work, careers, change, and education. She countered, “They can’t afford that.” There could be no sugar-coating, “Than you are perpetuating the problem.” I went on to share that if someone has $50 spend $10 on education. If you have a computer, the information to change is at your fingertips. But, if we fixate on lack, we will not invest in ourselves or grow out of the problem. The solution, at its core, is learning how to change oneself.

The revolution of change that is upon us offers active learners an opportunity to work and play and contribute in ways we could never anticipate. We will not see this nor will we find our place if we keep looking back where we will only see what is lost. When we look to the distant past, the Industrial Revolution handed virtually every obsolete worker a pink slip. Work didn’t go away. It moved and changed. That is happening again but with an abundance that will only grow.

Now, it is time for us to change. We are the solution. It is time to stop seeking refuge in our cynicism and contempt. Right now, Washington is a symptom. I love our country. But what I love about it the most might surprise you. I love the United States for its talent. No other country on earth attracts more brilliance because of the opportunity we give people to shine. Time and time again, the talent embedded in America has triumphed over crisis and darkness. We need to do that now more than ever.

Perhaps it is time for all of us to give this country a good swift kick out of its adolescence and step towards our future. We have so much to accomplish that taking our angst out on each other is also a waste of time.

The answer is in front of you.

Because YOU are the answer.


David Harder
David Harder
DAVID founded Inspired Work in 1990, which has helped over 42,000 professionals transform their relationship towards work. Individuals from all walks of life attend Inspired Work’s public programs to launch new careers, new business or to become more successful in their existing role. He views work as a profound opportunity to become more fulfilled, contributive and effective. Mr. Harder’s leadership, employee engagement, executive development and social networking programs are used in a wide variety of organizations including The Walt Disney Company, HBO, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Loyola Marymount University, University of Southern California, The United Church of Religious Science, Morgan Stanley, and many others. Inspired Work’s leadership programs, career development and team building programs produce some of the worlds most outstanding satisfaction numbers in any business: 92.6% out of a hundred. David has appeared on many business and human-interest programs including CNN, KTLA News, KFWB News and Business News Network. David’s book, new book, The Workplace Engagement Solution (Career Press) offers an entire “crack-the-code” approach to engagement.

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  1. Thanks a lot, David, for this brilliant message of awakening! The onus is upon us, and no one else, to see the winds of change blowing our way. Until and unless we wake up and take on the role of a proactive thinker, the challenges will only continue to mount.

    Our own failure to sharpen our skills for the transition will never be an excuse to blame either the system or the government.

    Let us take technology as an opportunity rather than a challenge.

    Thank You!