Thursday, March 5, 2009

130. Recession might good for us

An early morning show was discussing the economy when I caught one of their guests suggest that she was glad that we were going through a recession/depression-that we need to return to our core values.

At first I was appalled, how could anyone be happy that people were losing their jobs and houses. But then I thought about it and understood where she was coming from. Of course, she was not being completely literal and her point was to consider our current way of life.

We have lost some of our human values, such as respect, time with family and living within our means. In some ways, we are a culture out of control, where now everything seems to be out of equilibrium and we do not know where to turn.

Where did things go wrong?

Maybe the answer to that question is where do we start? For many of us, capitalism has been operating on steroids for some time now-satisfying short term earnings with long-term consequences. It was not until the taxpayers got stuck with the bill did the arrogance and irresponsibility of the top executives in the banking, investment and automobile industries become exposed.

As a society, we have become very spoiled. We want everything now-big houses, nice cars, large televisions and hip cell phones. We have racked up large mortgages, undertaken multiple mortgages and maxed out credit cards-all while saving very little. We have become willing to sacrifice principle for price and convenience. We did not care where the product came from, whether it was at the expense of an American job, or through environmental exploitation.

We have allowed technology to consume us. No longer do we take time to really talk to people-everything is an email or text message. It is common while dining out to see families sitting together but not speaking. Often one member of the family is yelling into a cell phone, another is texting a friend and still another is listing to his or her iPod.

We are living a sedentary lifestyle and consuming an unhealthy diet. We are eating processed foods and fast foods. When our diet makes us sick, we want doctors to give us a pill to make us better-rather than change our lifestyles. We are again willing to choose the convenience of a cheap meal over quality and ethical food production. The result is drug companies that are out of control and a health care system in desperate need of reform.

We continue to be a throw-away society. Recycling and conservation efforts are still in its infancy. Until recently, we chose gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles over sensible alternatives-essentially communicating to the automobile industry that they need not invest in hybrids and electric cars. We would gladly destroy the environment or go to war for cheap oil. We are unwilling to take the time to recycle our precious resources or pay a little more for recycled products.

I am not lecturing, I am just saying. We are all guilty in some respect; we all created the mess we are in. I think our new president is correct when he suggests that we will have to work together to get out of this. We need accountability and common sense.

Really, we need to start caring-about each other, about our country and about our world. We also need to be informed; it is ignorance that contributed to our situation. We need to stop looking the other way when it is not our problem, we need to know how our government works, where our products come from and how they are made, and we need to realize that our choices make a difference.

I think what we really need is a time machine. We all need to spend a month living in the conditions endured by our great-grandparents. Maybe we would have a greater appreciation of our present luxuries, learn to work together a little more, and turn off the television and video games from time to time. Maybe a return to our core values would not be such a bad thing after all.

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