The three levels of disillusionment, plus one

If you ever wanted a big-picture perspective on how fed up you are with anything, try applying the formula explained in a New York Times blog entry about Iraqi citizens and their opinion of politics in their country:

Anecdotally, judging from the visceral reaction of Iraqis to politicians when the subject is broached on the street, the public mood is past the stage of disillusionment with individual players in the political arena. It has advanced to disillusionment with the teams. The real danger is if it extends to disillusionment with the game itself, and what strongman or group might emerge to take advantage of that.

So we’ve got three stages, plus one more that I would like to add, that we could apply to all kinds of personal, professional and social situations:

  1. Disillusionment with an individual (yourself is possible);
  2. Disillusionment with the group of which the individual is part;
  3. Disillusionment with the system in which the groups and individuals operate;
  4. Disillusionment with the system of systems; for example, giving up on a cause before it even begins because in this dark scenario, all such endeavors are inherently flawed and apocryphal.

The common thread amongst all of these stages is a disastrous loss of social cohesion. Individuals turn inward, the emphasis falls on serving oneself above all else, and destruction becomes the order of the day. You know, kind of like riding your bicycle in New York.

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