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Other Side of the Coin

November 30, 1986

Betty Cuniberti's article on "Yuppie Angst: Coping With Stress of Success" (Nov. 21) came very close to illuminating the dilemma of today's rising young affluent Americans, while losing itself in the same circle of logic in which her quoted experts seem to be stuck. This is a process of looking all around a thing as a means to avoid seeing it.

The insular America of the 1950s is gone forever, shaken loose by the traumas of the '60s and '70s, through which we became irreversibly aware that we share our planet with other human beings. Today's young corporate professional, as (psychologist) Douglas LaBier points out, having "absorbed the legacies of the '60s" enters a business world which seeks to return to the ignorant bliss of the 1950s, where everything was all right as long as "I've got mine."

But on a planet of more than 5 billion people today, no one can fail to be aware that the gates of the privileged few are beginning to be rattled by the increasingly great numbers of the excluded. The question with which this young affluent person wrestles, consciously or not, is, "How is it just that I have so much when so many struggle simply to survive?" In a world of clamoring inequity "what's missing" may well be a sense of justice. Clearly no person in sympathy with other human beings can find an easy answer to this, and may set out to divert from the question through the means suggested by LaBier and Mark Held.

If, as Cuniberti suggests, Zen philosophy is one of the yuppie diversions, let me encourage any who have delved into Eastern thought to re-examine it for use as a compass, rather than a diversion. When Zen, or the Chinese "Tao," points out that "what has a front has a back," the compass may lead us to consider that if yuppie affluence is the front, then the angst and emptiness are surely the back of excessive material indulgence.

If, on the other hand, we view yuppie despair as the front, then the back may be the encouraging possibility that, through their dissatisfaction with empty lives, this very important and influential group of people may come to embrace the opposites of our world and begin to lead us toward becoming the human beings we were meant to be.

GRIFF LAMBERT

Los Angeles

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