How Much of What We Hear is True?
by Lee McCain
Numbers, figures, calculations, speculations, divinations, and expectations that are usually followed by damnations. It just gets to be too much and in a 24-hour news-cycle world there's plenty to go around. And goodness gracious is it ever consumed. Voraciously. I write of the negative news beast that is always ready to pounce, and never has he been as active as during that past four years of unemployment and economic malaise.
Most of us do not live under rocks, although the Henry David Thoreau method of clocking out and living off the grid is fast becoming a more appealing option, all things considered. But assuming that the majority cannot or is unwilling to head for the hills or otherwise return to nature, it falls upon each of us to figure a way back. I'd like to offer my take, if I may be so bold.
First, there is no denying that these are difficult times. But you know what? All times are difficult. There has never been a time when unemployment was a zero, and there have always been and will always be societal and social problems that can be directly traced to financial concerns. While we like to lionize the post-WWII decade as one big wonderful era akin to American Graffiti or Happy Days, the fact that one of the longest recessions we experienced as a nation was from 1955 to 1962. That's a long time.
So what does this tell us? What is the relevance when so many are feeling the pinch and are worrying about next month's rent and this week's groceries while the unimaginative partisans that we sent to Washington continue to do nothing while playing games of brinksmanship with the budget? There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and thankfully it's not from an oncoming express train. The light is this: We can and do have an answer to whatever our particular challenge happens to be — financial or otherwise — and if you'd like to see it, just look into a mirror.
Am I being glib? Uncaring? Simplistic? Not really, when one subscribes to the fact — and it is a fact — that all problems are solved on an individual platform.
Look, the 1930's were about as bad as it gets. Mass unemployment, rumors of war, and general nationalistic dyspepsia. But there were those who made money. There were those who overcame. Progress was made in spite of the playing field. It really was all about attitude. It really was all about the person staring back from the mirror.
There are things we can do right now — immediately — to effect change.
Grousing about the economy? When is the last time you truly bought American when out shopping? Every American product that you buy keeps another American employed. Every American business that you patronize keeps scores more in economic stability. And the good thing about stability is that it spreads, like a pebble tossed in a pond. The wavelets become waves, and such is the economy.
But it all begins with attitude. Defeatism isn't defeat; it's just the belief that defeat is the only possible outcome when that is the farthest thing from the truth. Defeatism is a self-fulfilling prophecy if ever there was one. And such prophecy has plenty of prophets. Just turn on the news. Or don't, and see what you can do on your own to improve your particular situation. It's easier than you think.
Oh, and there is one other ingredient in this fix of mine. Education. Whether it is traditional, college-related, or self education (or the gathering of new technical skills), education is the key.
So take a look in the mirror and take back what is yours. You don't deserve anything less. And then let us know how it's going for you a year from now. It all begins with you. And that's the true American Way.