You are entitled to nothing!

One of the most striking scenes in the award winning series House of Cards is when the president comes out with his new plan to reduce unemployment. But instead of just promising job creation and unemployment benefits, he pulls out the big guns. He tells people to get off their ass, dream big and take responsibility for their life.

The American dream has failed you. Work hard? Play by the rules? You aren’t guaranteed success. Your children will not have a better life than you did. Ten million of you can’t even get a job, even though you desperately want one. We’ve been crippled by Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, by welfare, by entitlements. And that is the root of the problem: entitlements.

Let me be clear. You are entitled to nothing. You are entitled to nothing. America was built on the spirit of industry. You build your future. It isn’t handed to you. And the problem with Washington is that we haven’t given you the tools to build it. The only way for us to serve you is to give you the means to serve yourselves. Well, that’s exactly what I intend to do. Not handouts. Jobs. Real paying jobs. [FULL SPEECH]

For most of my life, I have been mostly left-leaning, meaning I wanted the government to just help people as much as possible. I wanted the government to give away benefits to those who need them. But over time I am starting to recognize the importance of responsibility and order in my life and in the process inspired to help people discover the same thing for themselves. That’s why I think the words of the president in the speech are very very powerful. There is no way that the government can help you feel more powerful, feel like you’ve taken responsibility for your life and feel that your life is now in order.

The government can help but they should really just be tools to get you started. By definition, you cannot get the feeling of accomplishment from a received benefit or entitlement of some kind.

I am in no way arguing that government programs shouldn’t exist to help those who have fallen down and are having trouble getting up. Not at all. In fact, in the show, the speech was actually introducing government funded work projects similar to the post Great Depression New Deal to help get the economy on its feet.

In the coming years, as the world economy shifts and changes due to ever increasing digitization and automation, we should really think about whether we want to use government as a massive redistribution operation or a lean toolmaker, which helps people believe in themselves and believe in their dreams. Maybe we should rethink how we give out benefits and whether we give out cold cash or make smart investments in people.

And maybe people who want to get elected might want to start asking “What tools do you need to build your future” instead of “What should I give you to make your miserable life more bearable”. Because when I listen to people who want to get elected, it is more of the latter than the former.

We are entitled to nothing but I sure hope that in the 21st century, governments will give us better tools to make something of ourselves. I don’t know what these tools might look and some might say that all we need is for the government to get out of the way. I’m not so sure.

Desensitized by hysteria?

Several days ago, dance music duo The Chainsmokers released a new track called “Sick Boy”, which still sounds like most of their other stuff (maybe not this one). But one line made me pause…

And I’m from the east side of America where we desensitize by hysteria”

Let’s ignore the “east side of America” for now and focus on the important part.

You see, I still have this wonderfully stupid tendency to get really emotional and overthink the tiniest little problems. Obviously I then lose control of the bigger picture and am stuck in an echo chamber of my own creation. Wanting to get out of this self-imposed prison, I become “hysterical” on the inside and panic.

This then leads to something that I would say resembles “desensitization”. I become cynical and disillusioned with whatever I am currently working on because I fear the mass hysteria within me. This might also be projected outwards as anxiousness or just plain irritability.

To battle this, I have been working with a therapist and I am getting significantly better through the practice of gratitude and careful discipline when I feel the onset of this internal hysteria. I don’t let the hysteria take over and thus lead to desensitization. I need to think things through, but I can’t let them take control in the form of hysteria.

After all, it’s much easier to get angry on the inside than to ACTUALLY start working out on a solution to a problem.

I don’t know exactly what they meant when they wrote that line but I feel it’s something like “In the east, we use the hysteria as a way to desensitize ourselves and not face the demons within ourselves.”

I no longer want to do that.

Do you?

 

Helden sterben nicht <3

When a young person dies, the first thing I tend to think about is all the lost potential. What could they have become? What life could they have lived? So, when I heard about a young man my age, who died very suddenly late last year, I was brought to tears by some of his final words.

Dennis Hawelka was a german professional esports player. While most pro esports players start in their teens, Dennis did not begin playing professionally until his late twenties but he quickly grew to prominence under the name “INTERNETHULK” as a great League of Legends and Starcraft player until finally playing and later coaching pro teams in my favorite game Overwatch. He suddenly passed away in November 2017.

What really struck a nerve with me was what he said during an interview for the Overwatch World Cup:

“I made a career out of gaming when I was 29. I had a rough past before that. I told my dad what I’m doing and he is watching my games. And it’s the best feeling in the world to actually make your parents proud. And I feel that’s what I did. It’s amazing!!!” 😢

A few days after he passed away, the developers behind the game Overwatch announced The Dennis Hawelka Award to “be presented at the end of each Overwatch League season to the player that we deem to have had the most positive impact on the community”. Just like Dennis brought joy to the community, future players will take over the mantle.

Overwatch developers even added a memorial for Dennis in the game:

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I ❤ DH … Crusader stehen wache und Helden sterben nicht!