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Unexpected Consequences

We live in a powerful age in which life could go on, or it could not.

There is much to talk about in this space. Global Warming. Infrastructure bill. Voting Rights. Slow moving coup. Pandemic. Supply Chain. Uneven wealth distribution. Quality of Life choices. Emerging Worker power. Interpersonal relationships.

And they are all related.

Let’s start with the supply chain. I’m sure people who do this stuff saw this coming, but by and large most of us were fixated on the pandemic itself. How many dead? (Over 700,000 in the US alone.) Anyone I know? (Yes.) How many hospitalized this week? How full is the ICU? How many people are double vaxxed? How many are unvaxxed, just waiting to die? I suspect that most of us were fixated, not wrongly so, on these overwhelming issues, watching the tally like I remember watching the nightly reports of Viet Nam war dead when I was young, keeping up with the count.

So we weren’t thinking about, ready for, anticipating the other problems created by more than a year of isolation, of businesses shut down, of manufacturing disrupted. We certainly experienced supply chain disruption right off with toilet paper, but that probably had as much to do with panic buying like before a potential snow storm in Georgia when the bread and milk run out. Now, a year and a half down the road (or out to sea) the supply chain ship has sailed and is apparently amassing in huge numbers outside all our ports, waiting for a dock, waiting for a truck, waiting for a driver.

Now we are told that Christmas will be a little bare because there won’t be nearly as much on the shelves for our loved ones. Like the Little House on the Prairie memes that ran about the day Facebook died, I suspect that many of us are going to revisit any earlier passion we held for arts and crafts.

Let’s talk about interpersonal relationships. I think the emotional/intimate supply chain has also run threadbare in many households with many people. The worst case scenario folks (get me out before he kills me) have already made good their escape. Now, 19 plus months in, the folks who were thinking maybe they didn’t like the way their other half chewed now downright know that they hate it and hate it with a growing vengeance. Like the Meatloaf song, “I’m praying for the end of time so I can end my time with you,” we are tired; We are raw; We are over it.

We are looking for a better life because there really ought to be one out there somewhere.

Let’s talk about quality of life choices. People are coming out of the Pandemic (maybe, sort of) having ample time to feel the lifted weight of their prior, pre-pandemic choices after receiving a year and a half reprieve from the impact of some of those choices. And you know what? Some of them (many perhaps) really liked it. All choices are relative so maybe they don’t love it but compared to how it used to be, this new normal is better. And to move people from the better new normal, it will take upping the ante to make a new, new normal more attractive, to make the balance of that choice swing again.

And so we find ourselves talking about emerging worker power. Barring a take over of our democracy (some would like nothing better), you really can’t force anyone to work. If the work reprieve has given voice to workers to refuse to accept any position that doesn’t fairly provide for them, more power to them. Like quality of life choices and interpersonal choices, people are taking this opportunity to seize a bit more of their destiny. While that isn’t a good thing for everybody, that is a good thing for almost everybody. (Sorry Jeff Bezos.)

So these are some of the consequences, some of them unexpected, of our emerging age. I know that the more we try to nail down the direction that our society will take us, the more it will act like a greased pig and squirm away from us, heading off in an entirely unforseen direction while we guffaw in amazement.

Viva la uncertainly. It’s not like there is much we can do about it anyway.

-Michael Manely

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