Hope, the belief that you have the power to make good things happen, is an essential component of a happy life.
Absent hope for good things to happen in the future, life can be mundane and downright intolerable for many people. Self destructive thoughts and actions seem to have increased significantly in recent decades and I believe that the increase of hopelessness and helplessness is the reason.
So why the increase in these feelings here in a country with a bounty of just about everything?
1) The impossible cost of living.
2) Endless attacks on innocent people at the hands of government enforcement.
3) Breakdown of the family unit.
4) Ceding of family responsibilities to public facilities.
5) Reduced physical activity in childhood.
6) Reduction in religious institution support.
The human spirit thrives on freedom. The knowledge that there are many roads available to explore, and that each road has new and exciting possibilities, creates hope. Today, many of these roads that were formerly available for a person to travel have been blocked off, leaving little option other than to fall in line and be dependent on society to survive. This comes with endless rules.
When an infrastructure such as government grows, the perception of the need to punish people that do not follow all the rules results in ever increasing enforcement arms. With additional enforcement comes additional rules. With these additional rules comes additional enforcement. This merry-go-round never ends. Today, it feels as if 20% of people take the risk to improve their lives, and the more cautious 80% attack them.
The unidentifiable number of laws and regulations that government entities have created over the last 100 years has made just about everything either illegal or regulated. The sheer number of people employed by government entities whose jobs are to enforce these endless laws and regulations is staggering. Keep this in mind… people need their jobs in order to pay the exorbitant cost of living. In order to keep their jobs they must be productive. In order to be productive, enforcement personnel must keep a pipeline of enforcement actions full.
In order to keep this pipeline full, they must create violators. In this country where it seems that there are more rules than there are people, and millions of people are employed to enforce those rules, it should be no surprise that 1/3 of all US adults have been arrested. It should also be no surprise that the per capita incarceration rate in the US is the highest in the entire developed world. This is not freedom.
Getting back to the perception of hopelessness, most people in areas of highest enforcement have seen their family torn apart. The war on drugs created a nation of criminals, and the iron fist of government enforcement was only too happy to arrest, convict, and imprison tens of millions of people for possessing items that government entities decided you may not have, although people wanted them. Not only did this alone break up tens of millions of families, but the expected violent black market for these items resulted in myriad deaths as well. The criminalization of just about everything transforms all of us into criminals when the state chooses to attack. These attacks destroy innocent lives.
When parents suffer, their children suffer even more. This process destroys hope. When hope is gone, life can be unbearable for some. To make matters worse, many states have aggressive child protective services which are also staffed up to such large proportions that they take kids from their homes needlessly both for job security and retribution… because they can.
Schools have become more violent, which is in line with the decimation of hope; the hope that each generation will do better than the one that came before. The hopeless attitudes of many young people are made worse by the requirements of iron-fisted school administrators. Parents used to have a voice in the schools, but today parents’ notes are not enough to excuse a medical absence. Many schools now require a doctor’s note instead. The reduction of parental authority that has been taken by the state gives school kids one less safe haven in which to find safety and reason when school disputes occur.
For those risk takers that do not fit in the ever shrinking “box” and try to create their own opportunity, government is there to make it impossible every step of the way. Licenses, permits, red tape, taxes, fees, litigation and never ending enforcement, and the related thirst for blood destroys the lives of more small business people than competition. This explosion in the size and scope of government has slammed this door shut for most people. This is one more nail in the coffin of hope.
Even without being attacked by bloodthirsty enforcers, necessity has required the family unit to be broken down. The cost of housing increased about 5 times faster than salaries over the last 60 years. The cost of health care increased more than 10 times faster than salaries as well. The cost of prescription drugs increased 100 times faster than salaries during this time as well. All of these increases were due to hyper aggressive government regulation and enforcement. At the time of this writing, there is no end in sight to these increases in cost.
One income to support a family is now a rarity. Less time spent guiding and supporting children in the family home in exchange for earning enough money to survive leaves kids feeling alone in the world. Less parental guidance commonly results in kids getting into trouble. Many look to government schools to solve this problem. This only benefits kids that can stay inside the box. Kids that are independent thinkers or actors end up punished and their self-confidence shattered. Often times parents are arrested for the noncompliance of their children in public institutions.
The endless rules, and the boundless desire of government entities to enforce them, make people feel that their cage is shrinking, and the number of doors and windows reduced to zero. The nature of human beings is to follow their dreams. But when those dreams are hidden because they are forced to live in a tiny room with no doors, windows, or light… they feel hopeless and helpless.
When living in a heavily restricted space and physical activity has been replaced with technological entertainment that keeps the mind occupied, how does the body get exercise? Answer: in many cases it does not. Exercise not only keeps the body in shape, it benefits the attitude as well. But for many, the amount of time using cell phones and electronic games grows more each year. Being active builds hope.
People need people that will be there for them when the challenges of life hit them. When families are not available, religious institutions, while certainly not perfect, have historically been there to provide that support that was not available anywhere else. Attendance is down, but just as damaging… it has been commonplace for these institutions and the people who are involved with them to be fined or arrested for providing help to those in need, because the required permits have not been purchased.
Each private door to help that is nailed shut at the hands of enforcement is one less option. Without options to solve problems, people have no hope.
It’s not that people don’t care. Most people do care. But the hamster wheel that is life in the USA renders them so busy working for their own survival that the only option that they see to solve these types of problems is more government… and they are too busy to recognize that government is the main reason why these problems get worse and worse as time goes by.
How can we restore the hope to our society, and be sure that they have more opportunity with each generation instead of what we are experiencing today?
The answer is actually simple. Step outside of politics and make the recognition that the growth of government is the prime culprit in the breakdown of hope in our society. Dismantle it, piece by piece, until it stops attacking the people and only provides the services that the people want. As excess government regulation and enforcement is scaled back, the cost of living will fall in line with incomes. As there are fewer roadblocks to self-growth and people are once again in control of more of their lives, hope will grow. Helplessness subsides. Life becomes enjoyable again for most people. Remember also that people are taxed to pay for this institution that is destroying hope. If they had more money to spend on themselves and their families, fewer rules and enforcers, and previously blocked roads are re-opened, guess what returns… Hope!