April 30, 2011

In every dream home, a heartache.

With the rapidly vanishing Middle Class, there was a time when the Middle Class was a source of all worries and stress. The Middle Class was the class of people bearing the burden of the Cold War, Cold War jitters and Cold War Anxieties. At least it seemed so by the amount of media attention given to it.

Granted, the sprawl to the suburbs was brought about as the direct result of life in a Post-War world and the ensuing Post-War Baby Boom. But there was that nagging fear in the back of everyone's mind that it could all be gone in an instant, if someone just pushed the button.

And because of that fear everything seemed a little out of balance. Values, accomplishments, anxieties - it all seemed just a little skewed and subsequently the source of a lot of speculation and observation by mainstream media.

One of those came by way of the weekly series The Open Mind, which was a weekly talk show where eminent people in their respective fields talked about the pressing issues of the day. On this particular day in January 1961, the subject was Status, Success and Suburbia. And taking part in the discussion were Sloane Wilson, author of The Man In The Grey Flannel Suit. Dr. Richard Gordon, Psychiatrist and author of The Split Level Trap and Anthropologist Dr. Margaret Mead.

Margaret Mead: “Of course this great happiness of people who lived in a feudal farm, and the happiness of people who live up in the country. This beautiful picture that Dr. Gordon drew of this lovely small town, you know where everybody helped everybody and everybody’s mother came in and looked after the baby, and nobody was sick. I think we overdraw these contrasts with other people, just as we think of South Sea Islanders as people who are lying under trees eating Breadfruit dropping in their mouths and we don’t know how long it takes to cook Breadfruit. And we draw all of these pictures to an exaggerated degree. And one of the things that’s wrong with America at present is they’re not paying attention to the things that matter in the world. They’re pushing away from them every form of World responsibility, and then they’re sitting around having ulcers. And one of the reasons they’re having ulcers is they’re denying a great many of the realities in the world.”

In short, as a nation we were scared shitless. And it was no wonder Tranquilizers burst on to the scene and alcohol consumption skyrocketed. The irony is, by the end of the decade the paradigm shifted so radically that the middle class, those people of Suburbia, somehow got lost in the shuffle.

And now they are part of the vast ranks of the unemployed, the foreclosed and the marginalized.

Speaking of unemployed, foreclosed and marginalized . . . .
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