People today still fell trapped in lives they believe are of their own making. C. Wright Mills makes clear the sociological aspect of life lived individually as opposed to life created by society. For this reason, people place all their troubles, their failures, all socially constructed and man-made mechanisms into their own private life. It is simple human nature than human beings cannot connect their fates to a larger structure of society, let alone confront and control it.
For this reason, men and women flee to the secrecy of their own privacy, the only way to retreat and preserve a sense of control. This sense of control, however, is a trap. Men and women keep the secret of their oppression and their private troubles to the confines of their own minds. In this way, oppression, fascism, sexism, racism and other forms of public issues become more powerful. It is no different today that it was in the early 21st century. Then there was economic depression, war, and a host of public issues, just are there are similar issues now.
With high petroleum prices, recession, and war, we are still trapped in the sense that we are living in perfectly unique times with no connection to our history and to the rest of the public. The fact is Americans have witnessed a booming Industrial age in a short time and Mills makes this clear. Mills distinguishes our private troubles from public issues in the sense that psychologically, we as people long to understand our place in the history we are creating and feel great strife in this misunderstanding of life.
The private troubles are the values that a person feels are threatened in his inner circle and immediate life that cannot be connected to the public for reasons that seem to broad for the individual at the time and to his or her audience. The War in Iraq is an example of this as it relates to one soldier and then to the entire conflict. The soldier, himself, may join the front lines as a way out of poverty while the rest of his family and on-lookers believe it is patriotism that has brought him to his place.
He may struggle internally with his private trouble, never realizing that the overarching systems of his condition in relation to the power elite, who keep wars going for profit and keep people poor for the same reason. In this sense nothing changes in issues of power, but only in the people who have it. The “earthquakes of change” were first described by Mills as the onslaught of a new Capitalist society that was emerging in the United States (Mills, 1958). Today, these earthquakes shake our social foundation with rapid speed.
An election year in the United States has proven to bring the first echoes of change, as the first African-American has been elected to represent his party. This is history in the making and as we live our lives everyday, we are somewhat aware of our surroundings and the speed of which they may all resemble something different. We then must attempt to deal with our mortality with the speeding into the future that is unfolding. It is then our own choice, we can live and come out of the rubble of the earthquake a changed person or we can surrender to it.