By Peter Weddle
Although the menace of terrorism is still real and proximate, we are now facing a new challenge that poses an even greater threat to our way of life. It’s not far away in Iraq or Afghanistan; it’s in Boston and Cleveland and Phoenix and Los Angeles too. This situation endangers our ability both to create a comfortable standard of living for ourselves and to pass along an even better tomorrow to our kids. To put it bluntly (and without any exaggeration), the War for Work is an all out attack on the American Dream. And, it’s happening right here at home.
Unlike our struggle with radical Islamists, however, this assault is not being perpetrated by an obvious and evil enemy. In fact, the aggressors are benign. Their actions are legal and not all that dissimilar from our own. With some obvious exceptions, we are under attack by people who have adopted our creed. By working hard, by doing skilled work, by making a real contribution, by applying new and better ideas, they are stealing our future. They are replacing the American Dream with the Chinese Dream and the German Dream and the Brazilian Dream.
If you have any doubt about the seriousness of this threat – if you think I’m exaggerating – look around you. One out of five Americans is unemployed. Millions more come to work each day not knowing if they’ll have a job by the end of the day. People don’t even talk about job security anymore; no one wants to indulge in fantasy when their reality is so frightful.
How Do We Defend Ourselves?
Here’s the hard truth. You can’t win the War for Work – you won’t find a new or better job – by writing a stronger resume or by acquiring more friends on Facebook. I know that’s what you’d like to hear, but it’s not true. Those strategies were effective in a time of peace. In a time of war, they aren’t enough.
What can we do? How can we protect ourselves from this threat to our way of life? If there’s no defense in the actions we’ve been taking – if answering more job ads or making more connections on LinkedIn won’t keep us employed – what else is there?
The place to begin, I believe, is at the beginning. If we want to strengthen our defenses and steel ourselves for victory in the War for Work, we have to change our values. We have to discard the self-delusion that employment is somehow guaranteed in the United States of America or that the job we have today will always be there for us tomorrow. We must jettison the self-indulgence of doing just enough to get by at work and expecting annual pay increases that will sustain and improve our standard of living.
If we want to preserve and protect our ability to work – if we want to win the War for Work and save the American Dream – we’re going to have to adopt the values of victory. And who better to learn those values from than the Greatest Generation? They sacrificed in the near term to ensure our longer term security. They didn’t expect success to be handed to them; they were ready and willing to work hard for it. They were self-reliant, self-motivated and fearless.
And that’s what we need to be, as well. We have to set our sights on becoming the Greater than the Greatest Generation. They were imperfect, to be sure, but they were also exemplars of the work ethic and quiet sense of duty that made this country such a special place. So, it’s entirely appropriate that we should both emulate and do our best to improve on their outlook, their beliefs, and their commitments.
Ironically, that’s exactly what they would want. They were the Americans who showed the courage, the tenacity and the generosity of spirit to give their kids a better future. They would be proud to have us do the same. And do so even better.
Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including the recently released blockbuster The Career Activist Republic and Work Strong, Your Personal Career Fitness System, one of the most innovative career success books in print. Both are available at Amazon.com.