Welcome to the post-pandemic world. For good or ill, that’s basically the prevailing mindset and attitude of much of the public, as we get back to living life to the fullest. There’s a snag though. It’s hard to live life to the fullest when we’re getting gouged for every service we depend upon. Forget about facts, figures, and percentages for a minute. This is a human problem with a mathematical spin to it. Numbers matter, but they look different on a stat sheet than they do in real life, where they can make or break a family or a business.
We’ve heard about supply and demand tilting out of whack. We can see the dollar values attached to fuel and food prices, and we know that capitalism is not a fair game. There is a wide gap that divides the haves and the have-nots. That gap is occupied by varying degrees of the middle class. The middle class generally has some wiggle room in either direction but during an inflationary thrashing like the current one, the wiggle room gets awfully tight.
Have you ever heard a member of the ‘haves’ say something like, “Believe me, money doesn’t solve all your problems?” If you’re a member of the working class, how well does a statement like that sit with you? Not well at all? It’s because we can imagine that when greater wealth is achieved, the gauge gets reset — in terms of one’s expectations, concerns, and sense of security. It would be like getting a new measuring stick with new units of measurement built into it. It’s totally realistic to conclude that more wealth would eliminate at least some of our pestering worries.
Upon observation, it looks like the wealthy are doing the inflating and the middle class is paying for it. That ranks somewhere between irritating and infuriating on the fairness scale. It isn’t meant to be personal; it’s just the capitalism machine bulldozing its way through society. However, society is made of people, people are made of minds and bodies, and minds and bodies are breakable.
Some of us feel our hearts sink or skip a beat when we see the latest pricing sucker punch. Some of us feel our brains short-circuiting and our heads getting cloudy with stress and depression. This has everything to do with numbers, and the little calculator built into our heads that does the fast math and realizes that one way or another, we’re not coming out ahead. With a strict budget, we might break even. If not, the sinkhole of debt we’re in gets deeper. It feels like a rip-off if you emerged from the pandemic having lost a loved one, a job, a business, a home, or a bank account—only to be met by a shadowy figure in a ski mask, pointing a handgun and saying, “Give me all your money!” It’s shocking. We want to say, “How dare you!”
It’s adding insult to injury. It’s upsetting and discouraging. Prices always rise, but not like this in most of our lifetimes so far. On the heels of the pandemic, inflation in the marketplace feels like deflation in the human spirit. It’s demoralizing for those who can’t afford it at a time like this. However, before we calculate and conclude that our losses are insurmountable, there’s one crucial thing to remember and it’s this: We possess intangible qualities that cannot be defined by numbers.
One of those intangibles is resiliency, and most of us possess it in ways that we don’t quite comprehend because there’s no calculation for it. Despite our capacity for resiliency, we can’t always name its value, because its inherent value cannot be quantified within a system which prioritizes capital and minimizes us as individuals.