Monday, December 15, 2008

Get Mad as Hell

I don't know why it came to mind today, but for some reason I thought of one of my favorite movie monologues of all time. The monologue is from Network. The movie is now over 30 years old, but the words and details of this monologue written by Paddy Chayefsky could have just as easily been written to describe the events of the day:

Howard: I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth. Banks are going bust. Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's no one anywhere that seems to know what to do with us. Now into it. We know the air is unfit to breathe, our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had 15 homicides and 63 violent crimes as if that's the way it's supposed to be. We know things are bad. Worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy so we don't go out anymore. We sit in a house as slowly the world we're living in is getting smaller and all we say is, "Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster, and TV, and my steel belted radials and I won't say anything." Well I'm not going to leave you alone. I want you to get mad. I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot. I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crying in the streets. All I know is first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, "I'm a human being. God Dammit, my life has value." So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out, and yell, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" I want you to get up right now. Get up. Go to your windows, open your windows, and stick your head out, and yell, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Things have got to change my friends. You've got to get mad. You've got to say, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!" Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open your window, stick your head out and yell, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

I borrowed this transcript from the people over at Though this monologue is rich with content, there are only two things I would like to comment on.:

1) This scene is a prime example that you must be happy with your job, because this breakdown is a dramatization of what your potential burnout might be if you don't. Don't wait until reach this stage--strive for work that you love.

2) In bad times, it often pays to get mad. The problems that Howard Beale and the world at large are facing in the movie are too overwhelming for a simple solution--but the simple declaration that you are no longer willing to accept your dissatisfaction--that your life indeed has value--is a liberating step, and therefore a step in the right direction.

Maybe if you allow yourself to get a little bit mad, you can break out of the trap of complacency which has allowed your life to become other than what you would like it to be. Maybe if we all get a little bit mad, we can make the world a better place.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Half full -- or Half Empty?

The pervasive bad news spinning through the media right now is really astounding: the continuing drops in the stock market, declining retail profits, the dying automotive industry, increasing foreclosures, layoffs, hiring freezes, unemployment (or underemployment). It has really snowballed over the last few months. The reiteration I continually hear is that we are facing times worse than any faced by generations born after the Great Depression.

The gloomy outlook all might be true, but my argument is: Does it really help to dwell on everything that is wrong, when arguably, there still are things positive or things that we can be thankful for? Am I the only one who is thankful to see gas prices drop to lower prices than seen in five years? But there is more to see, and I am becoming more convinced that the way to get beyond whatever these times continue to bring us is to dwell on what is still good, while also continually seeking ways that each of us can contribute to make things better.

I recently came upon a few sites that help convey this message and have been useful to me in maintaining a sense of optimism that I genuinely believe helps one thrive. And so I now gladly share them with you:

Now might be a challenging time for many, but I believe that we must not despair when facing difficulties. Instead persevere and keep an open mind to possibility. Easier said than done, but survival itself is much easier for those who can manage to keep their cups half full no matter what they are going through.