Imagine a world full of people pursuing their passions instead of working jobs.
Imagine what would be possible. Not only for those people. For the world too. Individual passions unleashed to the tune of 7 billion people. I wager every problem we see today would be solved, and fast. Every person’s passion has a place. And each passion makes that place better. No matter how weird it may initially look.
Studies show people, particularly men, languish if they don’t have “a job”. Jobless men men wind up playing video games, or watching television or movies hours on end. Many are on drugs of all kinds. So says the New York Times:
A huge number are on painkillers, including 43.5 percent of men who have stopped looking for work. Both physical and emotional pain — sadness, stress and dissatisfaction with their lives — were particularly acute among men without college degrees, the unemployed and those not looking for work.
Disease and death claim many of these men. Including black men in disproportionate numbers.
It would seem jobs are health elixirs. Particularly men’s health. Studies show people find social connection and meaning from work. Could disconnection and lack of meaning kill a man?
At the same time, 85 percent of people hate their jobs worldwide. What a Catch 22! Eight out of ten humans: “I hate that which I can’t live without.”
What a conundrum!
That conundrum fuels political, commercial and mainstream popular sentiment. The sentiment says jobs are important. But that’s wrong. It’s not jobs that are important. It’s what people think they get from jobs. More direct: it’s what people think is available from jobs, and nowhere else.
A Rigged System That Forces You Into A Job
People pursuing their passions get far more meaning from what they do. Compared to what near 90 percent of humans are doing that they hate. So much so, they’re willing, eager even, to forego financial wealth.
Yesterday, two men sat next to me in a coffee shop. The older advised the younger on career prospects in film. Overhearing them, the older contracts his film-making skills to the likes of Nike and Adidas. He told the younger man how the work is “feast or famine”. He ended his advice with: “You’re working minimum wage in the end, but hey, you’re doing what you love.”
Back to the jobless: There’s something wrong with cajoling the jobless back into jobs. Maybe they’re telling us something we need to listen to. Are dire statistics about languishing, diseased, depressed and dying men arguing for creating more jobs? What about the 85 percent who hate them?
What’s going on here?
I suggest two things:
- Men don’t languish because they don’t have work. They languish because they are ignorant. Of what are they ignorant? They don’t know what lights their fire.
- Our socioeconomic system is rigged so that men, and other people who either hate their job or have no job, also have no alternative. It’s either a job or languish. And the rigged system doesn’t care about the one thing that can turn this around: people’s passions.
Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang uses these stats in his Freedom Dividen arguments. He wants to give every American over 18 $1000 a month no strings attached.
And while his idea will help, it only partly addresses the two points I made above. Given his visionary platform, Yang remains stuck in the “jobs are important” camp. He doesn’t realize people do their best work when they’re not paid. Even though that’s exactly what he said about himself in January.
Ignorance is a terrible thing. Ignorance within a rigged system is not going to be solved by giving everyone a thousand dollars.
What we need is a new system. One rigged in everyone’s favor. One that connects us with what we’re each passionate about. And if that can happen with no one paying for it, even better.
Imagine an army of mental health workers. Not the ones we see today. Today’s mental health profession, particularly social work, is full of struggling professionals who don’t like what they do.
I’m talking about people who care about caring for people. People who are well compensated. So they get rich. Their compensation is high because they’re good at what they do. They’re good at what they do because they love what they do. That shows in their results.
Now imagine these people, double the number of mental health people today, unleashed on the languishing jobless. Imagine their charges not having to pay a dime for their intervention. Imagine a million different approaches explored on the fly. As each mental health professional knows she can increase her financial reward if her new approach proves better than others. More so if others can do it too.
Today, men languish in parent’s basements because they feel they have no other option. No one helps them because no one will pay someone to help them. The men for sure won’t.
So we have millions of men not contributing to the world in the best way they can: through their passions.
This is our culture. The future may have more in store. Artificial Intelligence and Automation are going to wreak havoc. Not just in retail and behind the wheel. Radiologists are in trouble. So are accountants, lawyers. Even engineers. Yang says they already have wreaked havoc. It’s how Trump got elected, he claims.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
In the future I see, consultants accompany this army of mental health professionals. These consultants take once-languishing men, now fueled by passion, and helps them.
The consultants find them resources. They find them places to express their passions. They connect them with people passionate about the men’s passions. And passionate about letting others know such passions exist.
In other words, these consultant coordinators link them to their audience and supporters. Audiences encourage their passions. Like the supporters, they love what these men do. The men get reconnected.
All this happens without a single dollar being spent. Yet everyone involved (except the audience) gets rich. The audience gets rich pursuing their passion.
How can this happen?
It can’t happen in capitalism. Capitalism is the rigged system I mentioned above. But it can happen with a better way. A freer system that’s rigged in everyone’s favor. I’ll describe that in a moment.
In the meantime, if you don’t believe passions change the world, check out these two examples. There are millions of others.
Landmark Shifts In Science And Language
Perhaps you’ve heard of William Bently. He’s long dead. But his passion changed nature photography and a whole lot more. Here’s what he said about his passion: shooting snowflakes with a camera. From Wikipedia:
“Always, right from the beginning it was the snowflakes that fascinated me most,” he remembered. “The farm folks up in this country dread the winter, but I was supremely happy.”
Known as the snowflake photographer, Bently’s passion pioneered a process that didn’t change for 100 years. Before he died of pneumonia, publisher McGraw-Hill, the US Weather Bureau (now the National Weather Service), Scientific American, National Geographic, Nature and Popular Science all memorialized his contributions.
Here’s a short film about his life and work. It’s great.
Then there’s Charles K. Bliss. He had a rabid passion for unifying and simplifying human language. Bliss created a brand new language from scratch. He called it Blisssymbolics. I had never heard of this language. But I don’t have cerebral palsy.
For kids all over the world who do, Blisssymbolics changed their world. It allowed children with cerebral palsy to communicate with adults and each other. Bliss’ invention changed kids lives world-wide. His language ended up in Hungary, France, Sweden, Israel, Zimbabwe, Argentina, Brazil, Finland, Iceland, Italy, Bermuda, Guam, Japan, Portugal, Spain, Netherlands, Hungary, Switzerland, Venezuela, Madagascar, and Yugoslavia. That’s a lot of lives changed from a single man’s passion.
Neither man gained financial success through their passions. Not because they weren’t valuable. They were. But our rigged system doesn’t reward our most valuable human output. Output we’re passionate about. Such as caring for our kids, siblings or parents. Or creating something that changes life. Yang acknowledges this all the time:
The biggest misconception about the #FreedomDividend is that it will reduce work. The influx of cash will stimulate local businesses, creating thousands of jobs in our communities. It will also recognize work that is currently valued at zero – like parenting and caregiving. pic.twitter.com/1cxAFPNfum
— Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) June 11, 2019
Radio Lab Podcast did a great show about Bently and Bliss. Their great examples show how passionate people change the world, influencing it for hundreds of years.
How To Turn A Rigged System Into A Better One
It’s not as hard as it sounds changing capitalism into something that’s not capitalism. It starts by giving those who love capitalism something that outperforms capitalism.
Show those who capitalism benefits something that will benefit them more. If that something eliminates every conceivable way they can lose their wealth, even better.
The future I’m talking about makes rich people even richer. It allows them tremendous future potential to become richer still. A rich person will love the future without capitalism. Once they understand there is nothing to fear about it and everything to gain.
They don’t need convincing. Enough of them will convince themselves once they find out about it. Most everyone else will too. Why? Because they’re better off too. Rich even.
It’s that simple. Show rich people how to get richer. They’ll beat a path to the future. Meanwhile, everyone else gets rich too.
When A Pipe Dream Isn’t
Is turning capitalism into something better too good to be true? Nope. You only haven’t thought it through. No harm in that. We’re all so busy. That’s what the rigged system does. It keeps us busy. Heads down, nose to the grindstone. Busy doing what? Earning a living. A ridiculous notion if you think about it.
So everyone engages themselves in this ridiculous notion. Except those living in their parent’s basement…
Maybe they’re harbingers of the future. Thing is, we don’t have to earn a living. No one does. Maybe these basement dwellers’ suffering points the way to something better. Could they be martyrs?
It is not a fait accompli that the jobless doom themselves to depression, listlessness, disease and death. Depression and listlessness stem from hopelessness and or helplessness. Disease and death tend to follow those. Thinking makes it so, says Shakespeare. Hopelessness and helplessness are thoughts. Thoughts can create disease.
These people feel powerless. The rigged system’s insensitivity to their ignorance fuels that powerlessness.
Hopelessness can become hope. Helplessness can become excitement and empowerment. The listless can revive. Turn them on their passions. And watch the world change.
I say let’s make that happen sooner than later. Let’s start this this way: Turn the rigged system called capitalism, which demands everyone earn a living, into one that works for people. How? By making everyone free. For real.
It can be done. It only takes imagination.