About 20 years ago, America celebrated the film Cold Mountain, a historically-accurate depiction of life in Appalachia during America’s bloody Civil War. The character Ruby Thewes, which earned Renee Zellweger an Academy Award, BAFTA Award, and Golden Globe, is the type of person whose fearless and intelligent approach to tasks ensures not only the survival of herself but also the survival of those around her as well as the survival of civilization in a disintegrating world.
The following 2 minute YouTube clip introduces the know-how and industrious attitude of Ruby Thewes in a wonderfully unforgettable way:
The global pandemic, shutdowns, inflation, and war have wreaked havoc with productivity and the American work environment, empowering even marijuana-addled, barely-qualified, marginally-educated workers to demand higher wages, refuse to show up at the office, and eschew all forms of “manual labor” - such as food service, landscape maintenance, housekeeping, and even highly paid trade-apprentice, technical service or construction labor.
My spouse and I observe that the “Peter Principle” has asserted itself with a vengeance in the supply chain and service industries, resulting in reduced productivity, incorrect or mixed-up orders, damaged parcel deliveries, botched repairs, hours-long phone support wait times, and angry or disappointed customers.
I could list half-a-dozen specific examples of negligence or incompetence bordering on malfeasance, but it would entail pages of invective. Suffice it to say, we no longer seem to “get what we pay for” - though we often pay in advance and dearly for whatever it is we manage to get.
Even while the country is suffering rampant inflation/loss of purchasing power and an unreliable service environment, social media is exacerbating our already-polarized politics (where the extremes on the right and the left are hell-bent on destroying the moderates in their own parties) - urging us closer to virtual civil war. This is not how our nation ought to be.
By initiative, insight, and willpower, bold American explorers, pioneers, and inventors have helped our nation lead the world in manufacturing, technology, and medicine during critical times in the last 100 years. Our ability to focus minds, money, and manpower on a specific goal enabled us to produce nuclear bombs, moonwalks, and lifesaving vaccines - including the thankfully effective Pfizer and Moderna coronavirus vaccines.
As we urbane Baby Boomers advance en masse to the age of our own incompetence (and incontinence), we become more and more like Nicole Kidman’s character, Ada, the sophisticated Charleston belle, who is stranded and near-helpless in Appalachia during the Civil War. Ada likely would have perished if Ruby hadn’t shown up on her doorstep.
Our US Dollars are like worthless Confederate money if workers aren’t present and willing to help us when we most need them. At this time of impending cultural civil war, we Boomers, America, and the entire world are urgently in need of more people like Ruby Thewes to rescue us from the chaos of our circumstances and to lead us to a more hopeful future.