The state of the economy is grim. The DOW has plummeted, the US credit rating has been downgraded (because of political ineptitude and inability to address our long term structural deficits), fears have heightened of slipping back into recession and, most concerning of all, the unemployment rate remains unacceptably high and may be climbing. These are very tough times for a vast majority of Americans (not to mention people the world over), and we all should be humble and offer foremost compassion and generosity to those here and abroad who are struggling the most.
There is consolation in the fact that our Nation has been through much tougher times before and re-emerged on a much greater footing, as after the Great Depression & World War II (as well as after the Revolutionary, Civil and Cold Wars) when we achieved remarkable periods of peace and prosperity.
These tough economic times provide an opportunity for gratitude, knowing that we are so much more than just a financially driven or economically oriented species: our health, our families, our hearts, our human spirit - all matter more than our respective lot in life; and so putting things in perspective, many of these deeper fundamentals are alive and well in America and they always do and will trump the market fundamentals of say GDP, price to earnings ratio or the consumer spending index. What's more important: the financial ability to get ahead or that basic, universal love in all of us that enables us to give back. Take any crisis in time - say the Midwest floods, the tornados that recently ripped through Joplin, MO or the dire joblessness or home forelcosures that abound. Who comes to the rescue during these crises? We all do! Friends, family and perfect strangers alike all come to the rescue at one point or another during one another’s hardships - whether it's by helping rebuild shelters or offering up our own shelter for families to stay in when they have been foreclosed on.
We are remarkably resilient and restorative peoples. This is one of the main reasons why I am so hopeful. I am hopeful in our human race and I am hopeful in the American character that indeed we will pick ourselves up and together find a new and better way to thrive as a people and as Nation. I believe we can come out of this period of major downturn and economic challenge stronger than before because we will be more attuned to what really matters - our integrity, our responsibility for our fellow man, our love for our children, our resourcefulness and so on and so forth.
I recently read a review of new books that have been written about Mohandas Gandhi, the 20th century leader for non-violent direct action. The reviewer wrote two points on Gandhi among others that I found most compelling. The first was "his spiritual beliefs were crucial: the assumption, in particular, that regardless of the regime (or condition) people lived under...they always possess(ed) a freedom of conscience, an inner capacity to make moral choices in everyday life." The second was "the ever renewable power of cooperative action…is a truer measure of Gandhi's legacy than his many failures."
Ultimately, through the course of the economic trials at hand, if the American people puts at the forefront our deepest fundamentals including making the hard, moral choices in our everyday life - whether it regards energy pollution or our national debt - to live in a way today that does not harm or encroach upon the health, opportunity or freedom of future generations, we will indeed rejuvenate, innovate and collaborate our way to a new sustainable growth and in the process become a braver beacon of light to the world.