On January 14, 1914, Henry Ford announced that he would double Ford’s wages to $5 per day. At the time, this was unheard of. Since then, for the last 100 years or so, our culture has highly valued competence. You can trade competence and your time for a paycheck and healthcare. And for many, that didn’t seem half bad when you could afford a family, a house, an automobile (maybe two), appliances, television, and even a vacation. So, what happened?
Well, that deal is difficult to pull off now. Take Utah for example. The median sales price of homes in Salt Lake City has jumped from $365,000 in 2020 to $440,000 in 2021, a 20.5% increase in just one year. How often does a 20% raise come to the average worker? Not often. If you missed the boat, you are stuck paying for rent that has also substantially increased, waiting for the market to dip, finding a job that pays better, or moving. None of these options are easy to pull off or even desirable. With the cost of living skyrocketing, people are searching for answers. So, what now?
With a few exceptions, most systems break with enough force. What used to work just a few generations ago, struggles to survive now. We are in a state of influx while insecurity continues to compound. So when we are reflecting, searching for answers, perhaps we should examine the system that has got us here. After all, there have been grave costs to get to this point: ecological, climate, human, freedoms, etc. Is this really the best there is? We have to reprogram ourselves to be curious and ask the right questions rather than focus on the “right” answers. The very train of thought we are on may not be the path that solves the very conundrum we are in.
Human beings are the only creatures that can step out of the system of thinking and decision-making to examine the process. There are so many different paths that can be chosen, we forget how to imagine a world that is more just. If we can’t even imagine this world, how are we ever to build it?