Monday, February 8, 2010
A Serious Matter
So, what have you been doing, lately? More like how have you been doing? Have you succumbed to Cabin Fever, yet? Will we have to use a snow shovel even to find you? Or maybe you've cocooned sufficiently to have reached the next stage of metamorphosis? Feel like you're turning into a butterfly? Or withering from an overdose of self-analysis and introspection? That's what being cooped up does!
Me? I've been inside-busy. No different than usual. I can always find something to do! Lately, I've been trying a little knitting (I say "trying" because I am such a mediocre knitter.) And alternating that with making some odd gifts for when I haven't got anything else to give. These intricate little cat doorstops are a challenge to make, at least finger-wise, if not mentally.
So, with a little "mental space" to spare, I've been contemplating some wide-ranging issues, and I hope you'll allow me to deal with something that's just a little out of my domain, so to speak.
Specifically I ran across an article from the Denver Post this past weekend about Colorado Springs and its having to cut services that residents have always taken for granted, including 1/3 of all street lights, trash cans in the park, mowing, watering and fertilizing city park grass...the extensive list is pretty impressive. Here's the link to the Denver Post: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_14303
It would seem that "Big City Life" is about to change. A lot. By law, cities MUST balance their budgets. Unbalanced is not an option (unlike the federal government). So, "cutting services" isn't just "services." More to the point, it's cutting jobs. The real unemployment rate in this country is somewhere between 20-25% right now.
In that vein, I started wondering if Mom-ism will become popular once again, and if we'll get back to one job per family. Well, in my Internet wanderings...I learned that stay-at-home Dads (SAHD) are the new wrinkle in today's economy. True, many women have been rethinking the real value of their working outside the home, and many are being impelled for economic reasons...to continue. It's the men who are being let go and find themselves at home.
A few have adjusted to the abrupt change in their lives, and have connected with one another via blogging. Some have other interests--art, writing, building, woodworking--which they now have time to pursue. Some meet--as women used to--at local coffeehouses or at libraries, even at homes, to chat a bit and reach out to one another. Some have taken on volunteer activities as a way toward putting meaning in their changed lives. Others have chosen to engage in learning of one kind or another that either improves their curriculum vitae or is simply joy-filled enrichment, either self-styled or through local universities and via the Internet. But many have been unable to reach a fulfilling platform from which to launch the "rest" of their lives.
One difficulty seems to be that women generally speaking are "more crafty" than men. On some level, women seem able to find satisfaction from doing things with their hands. There are literally dozens of websites and blogs featuring sewing projects, knitting, paper crafting, cooking.
But, it doesn't seem to be as easy for men. Not only has "purpose" taken on a whole new meaning for them, but men--without a dominant role in the income-producing sector--often feel devalued. Maria Shriver has recently launched a research paper on the issue of women's taking the prominent role as income producers.
"For the first time in our nation's history," she says, "women now represent half of all workers and are becoming the primary breadwinners in more families than ever before." Shriver calls it a "seismic shift" in the economic and cultural landscape of America.
Of course, there's a lot of information on the web concerning this topic, and I'm only scratching the surface, but it's a topic that over time, I believe, will be in-your-face, as the economic situation worsens. If you're interested in following the trail of research on the topic, try Googling terms such as "Female Breadwinner" and "Stay At Home Men.
Finally, it would seem to me that as a society, we're going to have to address these topics squarely. Out here, living just off the one lane road, many friends have lost jobs as have friends of friends who are losing jobs. We have serious problems on the horizon, and we will need to address them, as we reach out to help one another deal with them.