The other half

There’s a popular article making the rounds, entitled, “There is no such thing as a millennial middle class.” It includes some important points, namely a call to reform the political decisions that have led to Canada’s high student debt loads, unaffordable housing, and stagnant wages. All worthy causes to fight for.

This resonates with me because the Reddit comment thread is filled with the understandable type of despair. What’s the point anyway, if doing whatever you want to do is impossible? 

Author and HBS professor Laura Huang invokes examples like Gac Filipaj, and writes in Edge:

“You have to assume that the system is not going to change. But even if it does, why should you wait around for it? You can’t be paralyzed by this inequity. You can’t be afraid to confront the system as it is. 

When you are in the system, you need to take charge of your own outcomes. Yes, do what you can to change systems—advocate for better hiring practices, speak up for injustice, and educate others about the reality of bias. But we can’t just wait for people to make fair decisions on our behalf, make the right decisions about our future, or do things the ideal way. Creating an edge enables you to succeed within an imperfect system.”

Focus on your personal future. It’s not to neglect the political system and decisions that got us here. Rather, it’s a call not to let the political system fill you with despair and dreariness to the point where you don’t think it’s even worth trying for yourself anymore, which only leads to the saddest type of self-fulfilling prophecy. Don’t let something that sounds unrealistic to other people stop you from trying. Entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk has made a similar point, in a much more blunt way. 

It draws to mind a quote from Machiavelli’s The Prince, via Erica Benner’s Be Like the Fox (Benner advises not to take Machiavelli’s writing at face value, but to consider the environment he wrote it in), “Nevertheless, not to extinguish our free will, I hold it to be true that Fortune is the arbiter of one-half of our actions, but that she still leaves us to direct the other half, or perhaps a little less.”

(And on a note about creative work, platforms do not offer feasible income for most people!)

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