Monday, December 22, 2008

Crisis of Confidence

I just heard New York's Mayor Bloomberg say something on TV that struck me as so profoundly true that I absolutely had to sit down and write out my thoughts on the subject. This country is suffering a Crisis of Confidence.

We all know that the country is in a recession. It is no secret that unemployment level have increased, bringing the current rate to 6.7%. Across the country there are over 10 million people out of work. I daresay we all know people who have lost their jobs in the last year; this makes us feel as if it could happen to us at any moment.

The reality is that we are more likely to keep our job than we are to lose it. That is right, most people are not going to lose their jobs, we just feel as if we might. The real problem with the economy is that people are scared. We have lost confidence in the American Dream. With good reason, I can see that, what with the government's lack of direction in the area of solving this economic puzzle and with people like Bernie Madoff in the world, who wouldn't lose confidence.

How does the average middle class family regain their lost confidence? Well, that is the big question, isn't it? Spending like there is no tomorrow in hopes that throwing more money into the sluggish economy will bring things around certainly doesn't sit well with most people. Sitting around in an anxious state of impending doom doesn't seem like the right way to solve a problem either. So, what to do?

I say meet positively in the middle. We need to regain our confidence in our government as well as in our fellow human beings. We the people need to be the ones to raise ourselves out of the malaise that we seem to be stuck in. It is up to us to be the change that we want to see in the world, as the Dali Lama so eloquently said. I know, I am a Pollyanna-ish person in this regard; I really do think that things will turn around and most people will be okay. This is just a ebb in an inevitable cycle of life in our country.

When broken down to its core, this country has many more Mother Teresas than we have Bernie Madoffs. Most people are good. Regardless of political affiliation, religious belief, etc, most people are honorable people. Most of us know that what is good for our neighbor is also good for us and live our lives accordingly. We simply need to restore some hope among our ranks.

Looking on the bright side does not necessarily mean putting on blinders to what is really going on. We can still have compassion for those who are out of work, help them in any way we can, without losing hope that it most likely won't happen to us. That is what it means to be an American; never losing hope in a brighter tomorrow.

I like to think that I have the strength that my grandparents had during the Great Depression. They bravely endured that time, so maybe, just maybe my generation can do the same.