This past weekend two different things have led me to think about how willing we are to back up our beliefs with any type of personal sacrifice. And I’ve found, in recent years, that most people don’t want to have to make any sacrifices in order to stand up for the things that they profess as being important to them. And when I talk about sacrifice. I mean either time or money or both.
Anne Helen Peterson in her newsletter talked about this at length.
Hedge funds and private equity often take pretty solid jobs and render them shitty. But start-ups, with their dependency on the independent contractor model, are shitty job generators. They launched their services, grew them exponentially, and insinuated them into everyday life — and were celebrated for their “disruption” for the unoptimized, analog way of doing things. For those who could afford them, they’ve made life quicker, easier, more seamless. But they’ve done it by creating a whole layer of shitty jobs, excused away as “side gigs” without acknowledging that those side gigs are necessary because of how many other layers of shitty jobs there are.
And Peterson goes on:
All we see with an Uber is convenience. All we see with a cheap yoga class is the ability to spend money on other things. None of this is discount what rideshare has made better, or mainstream yoga affords in terms of access. But there’s a disconnect between things that we value and our willingness to pay what they actually cost — what those conveniences, that “affordability,” does to the actual humans who provide them.
And then in a Washington Post article on climate change it came up again.
Though Americans are increasingly worried about climate change, fewer than 4 in 10 say they believe that tackling the problem will require them to make “major sacrifices.” And most are unwilling to pay for it out of their own pockets.
To be sure, there are people who can’t afford to pay more for things or who are already living on the edge so additional costs will hurt them. But it’s amazing to me how many people profess to believe that the climate is changing that it poses a threat to humanity’s very existence and they have the ability to make some sacrifices but won’t do it; they won’t inconvenience themselves.
And in turn, those same people want the conveniences and the “affordability” of the things Peterson references. As she says at the end of her newsletter:
If you’re actually serious about treating burnout — yours, your partners, your future children’s — you have to be serious about treating it for people you might not even know. If you want to actually make life better, more livable, less of a slog for yourself, that involves making it better for a whole lot of other people as well. For that, you don’t need a self-help book with an asterisk in the title to blunt the profanity. You don’t need a better organizational app. You just need to legitimately and actionably care about other people.
Thinking about how we treat other people, the costs associated with our choices, both seen and unseen is something I think a lot about these days. And now I’m thinking as well about what personal sacrifice looks like to help mitigate climate change.