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State of Uncertainty

State of UncertaintyI am not sure how I feel about things right now. Uncomfortable for sure. Maybe confused. But either way, there is no mistaking that we’re in the midst of a great state of uncertainty.

I wasn’t alive during the turmoil of the 1960’s, but I imagine this time bearing some resemblance.

Racial tensions are evident across the country.

Terrorist events aren’t just something that happen in another country. They’re happening in our own neighborhoods.

Peaceful protests are regularly turning violent.

Everything that is said or done is subjected to great scrutiny as to deeper meaning and intent.

We have two candidates running for President who are each greatly polarizing to the opposing ends of the political spectrum. This follows the current and prior Presidents, each from different political parties, who were also two of the most polarizing figures we have seen.

Technology allows for the video recording of everything. And the media is all-to-happy to broadcast everything they can and provide rage-inducing commentary to go along with it.

It’s no longer enough to disagree. We must beat differing viewpoints into submission either physically or through ridicule.

It’s not just happening in the United States. The UK has voted to leave the EU. As a result, stock markets dropped over the next two days only to rebound to record positive levels within the following weeks.

People need leadership. And not just carefully controlled soundbites. We need those with influence to stop trying to grow their influence, and instead provide direction.

Stop thinking that you need to take sides. In the end, I believe we are more similar than not. We have common goals, dreams, and ambitions.

We’re in the midst of a great state of uncertainty and no matter our views, we deserve to be heard and we owe it to listen.


Readers, I realize this article (or is it a rant?) is a departure from my normal topics and tone. But independence is greater than just having enough money to quit working. We live in an inter-connected world. And how we treat each other matters. We have responsibility to leave the world better than we found it.

Not sure how people will respond, but I would love to hear from you. Please sound off.

Permanent link to this article: http://financialslacker.com/state-of-uncertainty/


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  1. Jack

    Our country, our world, is greatly lacking in credible leadership. Difficult topic, but you’re demonstrating leadership by bringing it up in a responsible manner.

    When there is little consequence to your actions, people tend to act irresponsibly, whether politicians, policemen, or you and I.

    This reminds me of something I read about Confucianism in The Crystal Age a while back – something like…

    “To develop virtue, first it was necessary to govern their states. To govern their states, first they had to regulate their families. To regulate their families, they first cultivated their self. To cultivate their selves they aligned their intentions. To align their intentions, they gathered knowledge.”

    In short – knowledge gives you the insight and ability to govern your state.

    Smart man, Confucius.

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    1. Financial Slacker

      I like the Confucius quote. It all starts with individual knowledge.

      Good leadership at a national level is difficult to find. Those that have the ambition and skill to put themselves into a position to lead are often completely self-serving. Which may be why they can reach that level to begin with.

      While those with strong empathy, either don’t have the interest in reaching the highest levels or cannot distance themselves when necessary.

      I do think tchnology has opened the door to a new generation of leaders. Just as the cost to start a business has dropped, the cost to get your message in front of millions has dropped.

      It’s a matter of having a message that people can connect with.

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  2. Steve @ Think Save Retire

    The 24/hour news cycle is making this all worse than it needs to be, too. Yes, what’s happening is downright disgraceful, but unfortunately, our news cycle depends on this type of unrest for their ratings, sadly enough. They keep pounding us, over and over again, with more and more bad news so we keep tuning in to see what happens next.

    Honestly, I didn’t even hear about the race-based police shooting until a couple days after because I just don’t pay much attention to the news any longer. I’m torn sometimes, too…while staying abreast of current events is generally a good thing, maybe not knowing isn’t so bad, either.

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    1. Financial Slacker

      Years ago, I gave up watching local news, because it’s only negative. Mostly traffic accidents and crime. I still read the newspapers (digital versions) because at least then I can pick what I want.

      The national news is mostly political these days. And most stories are covered at a superficial level. Essentially, if you can’t fit the story onto someone’s phone they won’t bother with it.

      But if you want to understand something, you need to dig deeper and see all sides of an issue.

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  3. Get FIRE'd asap

    I completely agree with Jack’s comment FS. A lack of leadership at all levels of society, a complete lack of respect for authority whether it be in schools, the law, parents or anyone who really does know better. No accountability or little consequences for carrying out stupid or unlawful acts. it’s always someone else’s fault.

    Please do rant on. You’re just verbalising the frustrations of many of us who just see society on a rapid decline.

    Mankind evolved over thousands of years to the point where we are now in decline. Like all now extinct species, we have reached our apex (around the late 1970’s I believe) and we are now on our way back to living in caves. I have little doubt about this as the evidence around us proves it. However, our decline will be a lot more rapid than our rise. I give the human race a thousand years more….max.

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    1. Financial Slacker

      The lack of accountability and respect for authority is a dangerous path to take. Maybe it’s the byproduct of those in authority failing to hold themselves accountable, but society doesn’t function well without that respect.

      It starts with parents. And it crosses all segments of society, not limited to any one particular group.

      There is a difference between freedom and entitlement.

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  4. DividendsDownUnder

    There are many things changing, but the world is always changing. Those who adapt will thrive, those who do not won’t do so well.

    Just love your family and friends, do what makes your happy (and try to reach FI!). The more news there is, the more there is to be sad about – so I try to drown out a lot of that news (I’m a huge news reader, don’t get me wrong). Just like it’s important to drown out the financial news.

    People have forgotten how to be calm, civil and logical, in the media and wider public world that is.


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    1. Financial Slacker

      You’re right about that. I was just trading messages with a former employee who was telling me about one of her employees who just yesterday started screaming and using profanity at her. Apparently, he didn’t care for the constructive criticism he received. Unknown to the company, he was putting in his notice later that day anyway, so he didn’t feel that he needed to be civil.

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  5. zeejaythorne

    Interdependence is so important to remember. I am not free if my neighbor is not free. I am not safe if my neighbor cannot trust the police.

    It worries me a great deal when FIRE bloggers write as if the world will not impact their plans. Some folks don’t even seem to consider the financial implications of major events, let alone the human implications. Folks who want to retire and slowly travel for 40 years without truly becoming a part of any community and contributing to the decency in the world worry me.

    I don’t have solutions other than being careful with my language. Not painting people I disagree with in broad (ugly) strokes. Attempting to understand why we see things so differently. Attempting to share my vision without demanding it be the only vision.

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    1. Financial Slacker

      I like how you said “attempting to share my vision without demanding it be the only vision.” There is nothing wrong with disagreement. Differing viewpoints is healthy and leads to better solutions.

      I really enjoy hearing two well thought-out opposing sides of an argument. For the most part, people believe certain things because of their experiences. But when one side (or both sides) feel that they need to “win” and start tearing apart the other view is when things fall apart.

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  6. Matt @ Distilled Dollar

    I agree the world is a hectic place and seems to be getting worse. Great point made by Steve in the comments, that the 24 hour news cycle seems to only add fuel to the fire.

    My approach has been to (for the most point), ignore it. My time is already stretched pretty thin between my career, my family, my social relationships, and of course my girlfriend. To add to that, I’m preparing for another triathlon this summer and trying to read a new book once every other week. The last thing I want to do that at the end of a long day is turn on the television to see images of war, murder and poverty.

    While I wish I can make a difference today, I know that I’m still weak in the sense that I depend on my career to pay me an income. I like to think once I hit financial independence, I’ll have the time and energy capable of making a small change at a local level. This might not be everyone’s approach, but I believe we should make ourselves strong before we try to make others strong.

    Excellent post and glad you took the time to write a bit outside of your “normal topics”.

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    1. Financial Slacker

      The media certainly does as much as it can to stoke the fires of discontent.

      I was just watching an interview yesterday and the whole point was to get a rise out of everyone involved. When you bring on polarizing personalities and ask them charged questions, what else do they think will happen?

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  7. FinanceSuperhero

    I applaud you for having the courage to depart from your normal routine to write about something that is important to you. The current state of the US is very discouraging to me, as well. In the past, it seemed that the media focused on the negative and pushed the positive stories into the background. Now, it seems that there are actually fewer and fewer positive stories even making their way onto the news.

    I recall learning about sensationalist journalism in high school and feeling thankful that it was relegated to history books. Now we’ve come full circle.

    As for what can be done about it? I’m not sure either. As you pointed out, we’ve lost sight of the fact that we all have far more in common than we’d like to believe.

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    1. Financial Slacker

      The ease with which you can get a message pushed out to millions of people has changed the world. The funny thing is that most of the instigators don’t even want to remain anonymous. In fact, it’s the opposite. They are looking for notoriety.

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