This weak economy has caused many of us to behave in crazed, ill-mannered ways. The fervor and lunacy that has evolved brings to mind those overly popular, yet profound, words from Master Po in the television series Kung Fu – "Patience, Grasshopper. Patience."
It doesn't matter where I turn, it is only a matter of time until I hear someone complaining about the economy. Most aren't just calmly commenting on the current situation, they are downright angry; angry that our economy has not turned around yet and they are letting the rest of us know about it. Television, radio, internet, restaurants, bars, and even in our own neighborhoods, someone is demanding in an extra loud, curt fashion that things should have turned around for the better by now.
It's one thing to be upset, but what makes these futile ultimatums to the world so alarming is that many are accompanied by unsolicited and unwarranted finger pointing. Indignantly pointed in all directions. At the government. At Wall Street. At China. At Europe. At their former boss. And unfortunately even at our fellow neighbors.
While some of us are truly hurting and surely in need of desperate help, be it employment or a roof over our head, one need only look in the mirror when it comes to that finger pointing. As Jack Shephard says in the entertaining but confusing TV series Lost, "If we don't live together, we'll die alone."
That certainly is the case when it comes to the economic situation as well. As people spew animosity toward the government and its wasteful spending or ill-conceived attempts to help stimulate the economy, they forget that change for the better starts within first. They forget to look at themselves first before attacking others.
This country of ours was not built on individualism. It was built on strangers pushing their own personal issues aside and banding together to lay down the foundation for the free democratic society we all love to call home. Our founding fathers helped earn our independence, but they certainly didn't do it independently of one another. It also took them a lot of hard work and time, something I believe we all tend to lose sight of when times turn for the worst. It's in our nature to want instant gratification, we want the cure, the remedy, the magic pill right away.
The other day, a friend of mine lambasted President Obama, blaming him for the stagnant condition of the country. His sentiments were echoed by a portly gentleman sitting a few barstools away. I couldn't believe my ears. Here were two guys idly drinking beer at 3 pm on a Friday and blaming the President for their financial woes.
I thought about pointing out that this unfortunate mess started well before Obama took office and that his predecessor also rolled out a bold stimulus package that didn't seem to work. I also thought about telling them both that it's just the natural ebb and flow of the free global economic system and what goes up must eventually come down. Especially after times were soaring to new heights and many of us were lucratively living off the great dot com explosion.
But I didn't say either, because there was a much greater point in play here. We are all in this together, and right or wrong, left or right, we need to get up off our asses, get out there, and make change happen ourselves. (even if those asses are sunken deep into a barstool in the middle of a Friday afternoon happy hour). Sure the government can help, but we must all remember there are no quick fixes. Digging ourselves out of this hole is not going to happen overnight, and it's not going to be easy. Human nature and our tendency to panic and horde our hard-earned ducats in times of crisis will always work against us.
On the other hand, humans are also very resilient, enthusiastic, and innovative. Once we stop the finger pointing and simply regain our confidence we will again return to robust economic times. As Axl Rose poignantly states: "It'll work out fine. All we need is just a little patience."