The headlines this morning were of massive lay-offs by prestigous companies. They aren’t the first. They will not be the last before we are through this. For those with jobs, the specter of not having one may have already become a constant companion. For those without, the statistical likelihood of finding what might even be remotely workable becomes ever slimmer.
If you are retired and on a fixed income, the monsters under the bed have different names. Can you count on the pension you’re living on? Will Social Security implode before this is over? And what are we going to do if the price of gas spikes again?
If you are unable to work and relying on the kindness of others, there are other ogres to face down. What if the funding get yanked? What if they decide they have to rent the room to someone who can pay?
There’s plenty of anxiety to go around. It is of no benefit to any of us to succumb to it. That, however, is easier said than done.
Franklin D. Roosevelt’s quote, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” rings in our ears. But where do we find the courage to face it down? How can we be sure that if we stay the course, everything will be fine?
This is life not an infomercial. There are no guarantees. That doesn’t change the need to keep going. But there are monsters here and scary things that could do us harm. How dare we go on?
We must go on. Because going back or standing still holds every bit as much peril and far less potential. We go on because doing what we believe needs to be done is not a matter of safety. It is a matter of character and commitment to something larger, something in which we believe. Those are the places where we need to lead our bedraggled wagon trains. Toward the things that matter.
To be sure, some things we’ve been doing need to stop. Buying beyond our means was foolhardy even in the good times. Putting things on credit that you didn’t really need was never a winning plan. Let that go.
Going after “my share” rather than committing to a meaningful purpose needs to go, too. (All you banks who are sitting on taxpayer money for the sake of your own safety instead of using it to do the work of restarting the economy, listen up.) “My share” is a childish construct we can’t afford. Yesterday, there was an article in the local newspaper about a low income program the state was planning to cut. The related photo showed one of the recipients–smoking a cigarette. Excuse me. Why are we supporting someone who is literally burning money–and ruining his lungs in the process?
Giving anyone an excuse to do less than they can for themselves is inexcusable, especially in this situation. And we need to hold ourselves to that same standard. The first question for every single one of the ubiquitous little (and big) challenges that are being heaped on us is “What can I do about this myself?”
There are two reasons for that. The first is fairness. If you haven’t done what you can to improve your situation before taking someone else’s money to fix it, you are a leech. Period. (Banks sitting on TARP money, think about that, too, huh?) We have way too much going wrong to attend to leeches.
The second is when you take care of it yourself, you prove you can. Even if taking care of it means letting go of a dream or giving up on something you want to keep doing. We need to step up to our own challenges. We need to bow to changes life demands of us.
As a nation, we are never going to be able to keep people in homes they couldn’t afford to buy in the first place. We are never going to be able to assure everyone has the perfect job at the correct wage or even a decent place to sleep. We are never going to be able to assure that some big company doesn’t find yet another way to be stupid enough to do harm to us all. But the beauty of this democracy is that we all have the right to make a difference. And making that difference is where you find the courage to keep going.