Let It Shine
Would someone please turn on the light at the end of the tunnel? For many months concerns about the financial markets at home and abroad, job security, retirement income, keeping one's home, and educating one's children have haunted millions of families. Echoes of the Great Depression are heard everywhere. History tells us that the answer for the Great Depression was not found in government spending or in loose credit, but by the actions of a small country across the Pacific Ocean at a place called Pearl Harbor. The situation today is different from the 1930s and, certainly, no one wants World War III. One must hope that the policies of our government and the movements of the marketplace will bear fruit soon.
Forces beyond our control have affected our lives in many negative ways. This, however, does not mean that we are helpless before them. It is within our power to develop a strategy for success. Individually or as a family, the time has come to assess the gravity of one's personal situation and to take positive steps toward coping with the present and any future realities. Perhaps, for the first time or after a long absence, each person must determine to re-focus his or her thinking in the direction of cutting wasteful or unnecessary spending, reviewing personal attitudes and practices, and revisiting old and forgotten sources of meaning and satisfaction in life. No doubt, sacrifices will be called for. Often, this requirement results in feelings of anger and resentment where, in fact, cooperation and solidarity are needed. Dwelling on faults and igniting past animosities can lead to estrangement. Different directions in thought are necessary. No small dose of compassion and forgiveness will be demanded in working out these problems. In The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor stated, "For we are made for cooperation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like then rows of upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature, and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away." Although the realization of having to forfeit certain pleasures is painful, unrealized benefits may reveal themselves. Very likely, family members will find that they shall forge a new and intense degree of closeness as they unite in a common cause and encourage one another in their efforts.
The crisis facing our society is much more than financial. A moral bankruptcy among certain individuals led to the abuse of power. One could pluck from the vine of the human condition a number of "Deadly Sins" that would account for the currant unpleasantness. Yes, the country would benefit from a general spiritual awakening – and so would the individual. I believe that it was Gandhi who said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." We might say, "Be Christ-like." There can be no doubt that this is an essential part of the solution, but sin and vice will taint humanity until the end of time. It will demand ever restructured instruments of accountability to stem the tide of greed, envy, and all of the other manifestations of malfeasance to which human beings are liable.
Let us pray to see clearly and stand firmly in defense of the right
Emphasis on the personal and the local is, in my opinion, the key element to recovery. Once the individual can order the values that enhance life and recognize the iniquities that destroy it, confidence will return. Concurrently, the national and political scenes need to change. The country looks to its leaders not only to govern wisely, but also to inspire trust. Rather than the image of politicians as ideologues belaboring each other, the politician would be highly served to develop at least a modicum of a reputation for looking out for the well being of the people of America. In addition, I believe that the citizens of the country look to each other to hold and uphold the highest standards of personal and business ethics. Whom can we trust? This question occupies the minds of Americans as they languish over seeing many of their most important institutions mired in unscrupulousness. We must be able to trust one another. Eternal vigilance must be served, but hope and healing will occur when the greater mass of people are marked by an adherence to the Judeo-Christian values upon which this country was founded. Then, let us set the example for what we wish our country to be. Let us pray to see clearly and stand firmly in defense of the right. Turning once again to our old friend Marcus Aurelius, "Be like the promontory against which the waves continually break, but it stands firm and tames the fury of the water around it." Slowly but surely, the answers for our current problems will appear and will bolster the cornerstones of our country's future economic policies and our society's spiritual character. We need to make ourselves a people who not only are prepared for those solutions, but also are a part of them.