Standards are slipping and we are blindly letting it happen. People have got used to it. And if we don’t act to change things, they will continue to fall until our whole way of life is destroyed and becomes impossible to retrieve.
At the start of their book, ‘That Used to be Us’ Thomas L Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum give a very telling comparison of the current difference between the China and the US. They cite the example of the massive, beautiful 230,000 square meter (2.5 million square feet) Tianjin Meijiang Convention and Exhibition Centre taking only 8 months to build, and compare that with the fact it took 6 months to repair the escalators at Bethesda station on the Washington Metrorail – 2 separate escalators of 21 steps each.
If that stark comparison is not damning enough the authors complain that:-
- A spokesperson for the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority said that “the repairs were scheduled to take about six months and are on schedule. Mechanics need (my emphasis) 10-12 weeks to fix each escalator.”
- One of the explanations given for this time was that it included “modernisation” because “the escalators were old and had not been kept in a good state of good repair.”
- The most disturbing aspect was a commuter comment in a newspaper report that “my impression, standing on line there, is people have sort of gotten used to it.”
None of these statements is acceptable. The passive acceptance of a basically unacceptable schedule, justified by an admission of historically poor management, both blandly and blindly accepted by an unquestioning customer, is an enormous indictment of falling standards.
Yet, although this illustration describes a US situation, it is by no means an exclusively American scenario: it is a sample of what is happening today in all “Western” economies. It portrays people who are resigned and have lost their pride in what they do and, as a result, have become indolent, indifferent, and apathetic. This is precisely the point I attempted to illustrate in ‘A Feeling of Worth’ and it is why we need to rethink the way we do things and rediscover our sense of self-worth.
We cannot get used to this: to declining standards and the erosion of all we built up and hold dear. That is why I wrote ‘The Democracy Delusion’ and why I urge you to read it and act. We cannot continue as we are and I believe it offers a very real solution.