This film may be of interest to you. I haven't seen it, but came upon this website which includes the trailer for the film & some reviews and news about it . Its message reminds me of points you made in your essay about filling your life up with you. You spoke in terms of a larger cultural context in the essay, not just in terms of individual psychology. I think I heard you suggesting that many facets of our society contribute to the development of the mindset that filling life up with one's self is the way to go. The message of the film seems to encourage interconnectedness, and a holistic, more compassionate approach to sustaining life.
I am changing my views as I age. I used to be very liberal & support all the social programs you list in your first sentence & more. How, I asked, could a compassionate person not want a "living wage" to be mandatory for all?
Now I see the economic, psychological and sociological harm that dependency on such programs create. I still do wonder how to address the needs of people at the lower economic rung who have little hope of advancing say, beyond a job a McDonald's. Not everyone has what it takes to move beyond such a position.
I am exploring new ways of tackling social and economic issues, and isn't it funny that there is a personal parallel in my own little, private world? This whole issue of dependency as a way of being, as an answer, is one I've been challenging by learning to stand on my own feet emotionally. Redefining my expectations of marriage so that I don't insist on getting sympathy, encouragement, validation, reassurance, etc., from someone else. Funny that in my youth on both the macro and micro levels, I saw "being taken care of" as compassion in action. I used to think something was seriously wrong if I was required to take care of myself emotionally, and I used to think something was seriously wrong if the government didn't take care of its people.
For me, these are all exciting new ideas, and I am still very much exploring, I am embarrassed to admit, since I'm not exactly a teenager!
If you have a chance, are there any book recommendations off the top of your head?