Today is a day that we all stare into the face of the boogey man. Today is a day that many of us, already teetering in the day-to-day, wonder what tomorrow and the next day will look like? And the day or the year after that.
Or we’re asking ourselves if there’s even gonna be a "tomorrow".
My mom was a child of the Great Depression, so I’ve heard my share of stories about the hardships that time inflicted on people. Real people. Losing jobs. Losing homes. Going without. Going hungry. On the street, even. Lives and families devastated.
And even if it didn’t deal a death blow to you and yours, it left scars. Ones you carried through the rest of your life. No one was immune from that.
I’ve spent a lot of time this past weekend wondering if we’re on the verge of repeating history. I mean, we’re damn right on the line now, correct? True dat.
I asked myself what is the one thing I can do–the most important thing in the moment–to help maintain the integrity of our country and our economy in this hour of need. The answer came to me in the form of the timeless motto from the great British philosopher, the late Douglas Adams.
The answer is, simply, "Don’t Panic."
And while we’re at it, there are a few other "dos and don’ts" we might wanna consider:
- DON’T think Democrat or Republican, or one ideology or another. Let’s face it, that’s one of the things that got us into this mess. We’ve spent so much energy–especially over the past eight years–focusing on why we’re different than the other guy, and why we’re right and he’s wrong, we’ve lost track of the most important thing we all have in common: we’re all people. And we’re all Americans. At this time, more than any other, we need to remember this above all because "United we stand; divided we fail" feels pretty palpable at the moment.
- DO cut your representatives in Congress a little slack. They know they should probably vote in favor of the recovery bill before them right now, but they’re scared to death that they’ll lose the upcoming election because they did just that. Guess what? They know the recovery plan is as whack as we all think it is. But they know–like we all should know (at least admit)–that to do nothing right now is to fiddle as Rome burns. It’s the best bad solution we have. Perhaps the only one. And both freakin’ Presidential candidates support it. What else is there to say? Send them the message that it’s okay to act and, we’re not going to hold it against them next month.
- DO vote. Regardless of how we got into this mess, we need to stand up
and exercise our right–our direct tangible avenue to voice how we
believe the country can best work its way toward recovery. It’s time to stand and deliver as Americans. Let’s get all Nike on those voting booths next month.
- DO look out for one another now. Well, all the time. But today, specifically, when the Golden Rule might just be the most potent and profitable fiscal strategy any and everyone can employ. I have been self-employed and a business owner for going on five years now. I’m no millionaire, but I am keeping a roof over my head and my hat in the ring. And "paying it forward" and "helping other people succeed" and "charging what’s fair versus what I ‘could have charged’" have served my businesses well. Both businesses–screenwriting and professional speaking–are growing. It doesn’t matter whether or not nice guys "finish last"…they "finish". Crossing the finish line is, after all, what matters. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch the movie RUNNING. ‘Nuff said.
- Don’t worry so much. We’re gonna be okay. And one good thing about tough times is that they serve to remind us what’s truly important–and critical–in this life. Turns out it’s a pretty short list.
As I sat down to write this, I looked to the guy who lead us out of the last big mess for a bit of wisdom. These word from Franklin D. Roosevelt, which seemed merely "historical" before, feel downright pertinent today.
"When Andrew Jackson, ‘Old Hickory,’ died, someone asked, ‘Will he go
to Heaven?’ and the answer was, ‘He will if he wants to.’ If I am asked
whether the American people will pull themselves out of this depression, I answer, ‘They will if they want to.’" He goes on to say, "I
have no faith in ‘cure-alls’ but I believe that we can greatly
influence economic forces. I have no sympathy with the professional
economists who insist that things must run their course and that human
agencies can have no influence on economic ills. One reason is that I
happen to know that professional economists have changed their
definition of economic laws every five or ten years for a very long
time, but I do have faith, and retain faith, in the strength of common
purpose, and in the strength of unified action taken by the American
We can walk this walk together, folks. We can make it through the eye needle and be even better on the other side. If we come together. If we stand truly united.
If we don’t panic.
It might, in fact, be the one thing that saves us.