We all know its bad out there right now. We already know this. Yet, every day we are beaten over the head with story after story about how everything is “going to hell in a handbasket.” It seems the media, in all its forms, is doing its best to drive us mad with worry. To what end? Ratings? Public Service? Money? For me, the time has come to turn the damn thing off. Constant reiteration of our troubles only deepens our anxiety and drives us closer to the point where we can no longer function for all the doom heaped upon our shoulders. So, turn off the television (or watch something fun), stop reading the daily newspaper and trim your Internet reading of anyone who seems determined to turn this downturn into the end of the world.
Am I telling you to bury your head in the sand? Of course not. What I am telling you to do is to stop dwelling on these problems, many of which are out of our direct control. Instead take all the time spent on the angst, the worry, the panic, the obsessive checking of the Dow Jones and do something productive with it. Do some hard thinking, as I am always asking of you. Take concrete actions towards your goals. Make connections. Talk with your friends. Start a business. Write a book. DO SOMETHING…ELSE!
Much of my current problems with the press and the government come from the fact that they don’t seem to understand one great lesson of the Great Depression. They trot out the Depression for comparison to today’s trials. They make nice charts and graphs showing this correlation or that, but they never say the most important thing about it…we recovered. We made it through the Great Depression. We have made it through countless smaller challenges over the years. Today, though, we are infected with an overwhelming sense of apocalypse. I refuse to buy it and anyone who tries to sell you that message should be looked at for ulterior motives.
Growing up in a small town in the 1970’s you wouldn’t think that I worried much about the economy, but the 1970’s was one of the low points of my life. We had an energy crisis with gas lines, odd/even gas station fill-up schedules, furnaces turned low, even during the most bitterly cold months. I know what it is like to have a parent lose their job as the sole breadwinner in the family with no hope for full time employment for years. I know what it is like to drop from a nice middle class existence into poverty. I know what it is like to look into the cupboards and find nothing there, even though you are still hungry. I know what it is like to realize that you suffered form malnutrition, even if you didn’t realize it at the time. Yet, after living through that, I am still optimistic. Why? Because just like its big cousin, the Great Depression, we came out of that 70s economic downturn.
Was it fun? Was it easy? Will we bounce right back in a few months this time? Of course not. It is going to be hard. There will be pain and suffering. Some of us will have our lives damaged more than we might like, but most of us, many of us will come through this a bit older and (hopefully) a bit wiser, but relatively unscathed. We must remind ourselves constantly of the words of an ancient tale about King Solomon, “This too shall pass.” 1
So, today…right now…turn off the news — set aside the newspaper — and take some action to move forward with your life. We all have much more life left to live and this economic downturn is not going to stop the days from passing. Life goes on and it is truly what you make of it. The power to move forward and to thrive comes not from Wall Street, Silicon Valley or Washington DC. It comes from action. It comes from taking one step after another after another. It is time to stop feeling sorry for ourselves. Time to stop bemoaning our bad luck. Time to stop fearing each new day. It is time to get something done!
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