The Pursuit of... An Upgrade?

My Thanksgiving thoughts (with apologies to Tom Peters.)

Buy One, Get One Free. Frequent Flyer Miles. College education. New job. Trade in a four year old car. Lottery tickets. Different job. Movie and sports package rather than Basic cable. First Class instead of Coach. Whatever it is, we humans are always looking for an upgrade. What does this have to do with Thanksgiving?

As a native born, plain-vanilla American, I was born in the right place at the right time. At least that is my opinion and I am sticking with it. As anyone that reads this blog can attest, I might seem a bit cranky at times, but it is because I am always seeking... looking for... pursuing... something, but what? Perfection? Nirvana? Excellence? WOW? While I was pondering this salient point this morning, it occurred to me that most of us are pursuing an upgrade.

Aren't we all just looking for something better? When a university trained engineer from Iraq, or a medical doctor from Mali, or a school teacher from Bangladesh leaves it all behind to come to the US and take a job as a taxi driver or as a room cleaner in a hotel, what is the motivation? Are they getting an upgrade, or are they gaining the ability to pursue an upgrade?

We Americans (and I assume Australians and Canadians have similar feelings) are lucky to be where we are. You can't do much better. For that I am exceedingly thankful. As much as we collectively complain about our politics, the direction the country is heading, our health care, food prices, gas prices, EPA regulations, taxes, etc., would any of us volunteer to leave it all behind and move to North Korea???? Chad? Nepal? Pakistan? Afghanistan? Anything-istan? Syria? Portugal? Russia? Anywhere in Africa? What about China? I mean, pick up and move there and try for a better life because you know that you can do better than where you are now. That's right, be honest. Would you do it?

Even Alec Baldwin did not move to France like he promised after George Bush beat Al Gore. Why not? I think we all know the answer.

This is what is lost on most of us. We have it pretty damned good here in the US of A. Even the least of us could do a LOT worse somewhere else. Except for the mandatory 6 to 8 week vacation periods, early retirement age and free, government provided health care of some 'progressive' countries (and we see where that is taking their economy, i.e. Greece, Ireland, France, Portugal, Spain, etc.) our citizens who choose to work are doing quite well.

In our country, "below the poverty line" includes cell phones, TVs, enough food to remain 100 pounds overweight, enough money left over to buy drugs or booze, plus access to free housing, free health care and subsidized higher education. What a country!

So why are we so discontented?

I think it is the human condition to always seek better. If contentment were the norm, we would still be living in caves, looking for fire. When do you have enough? Enough is never enough. Our President, Barack Obama, recently talked about that while giving a speech about financial reform and the Wall Street fat cats. That is such a hypocritical question to be asked by someone who went from State Senator, to US Senator, to President in just five years. Not just to pick on our Prez, but that is a hypocritical question to ask by just about anyone besides a cloistered nun or a Buddhist monk.

We all want more. We all want better. We all want to have more money, better food, better hair, better teeth, thinner waistline, nicer clothes, cooler car and on and on we go.

Not happy with your religion? Go grab a new one, or have none at all. Try that in 2/3 of the rest of the world. You will be lucky just to stay out of prison, or leave with your head still attached to your shoulders.

So what am I thankful for this Thanksgiving 2010? I am just thankful that I have the currently unlimited ability to pursue these upgrades and to keep most of what I gain to do with what I choose. I am also thankful that I live in a country that allows me to fight politically to keep this rare ability.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

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