On June 28, 2008 I posted Freedom from Fear - Aversion to war, and 6 points I was going to try to live by.
On the whole, I don't think I've done too bad in following these 6 points. My last point was:
"6. I will try not to lose hope. This is the hardest thing of all. The economy is tanking here at home."
I wasn't writing that time specifically about the economy, but understood then, as now, that everything ties together. There is not a "war box" or an "economy box". It is all one box.
I wanted to write Freedom from Fear, Part 2, and in this particular installment of Freedom from Fear, I wanted to commit myself to not be fearful about the economy.
That is a whole lot easier said than done. The media is striving to fill 24/7 on several outlets with depressing economic news. I believe they should report the news faithfully, but in other economic downturns there was not as much news - back in the 70's and 80's you read your local newspaper and watched the evening news, and that was pretty much it. Now you can literally be exposed to bad economic news everywhere you look.
On the other side of the equation, there are a lot of people who seem to be trying to do the same thing that I've done. For instance, I have been reading this guys blog for awhile now (The Good News Economist). I don't always agree with him, and the guy is not a "real" economist - although, "real" economists have not particularly distinguished themselves in making accurate predictions regarding our economic troubles:
There are several other people I know who are saying that they are "not choosing to participate in the recession" (if only it was that easy - but the point is well taken that we need to believe we have more deciding power than we think we do).
I do not really find any particular reason to start giving any more trust to a Harvard, or MIT trained economist, as well as any economist from the Fed. I would be as inclined to trust a chimpanzee throwing darts at a board to make predictions as accurate as they have.
For the past few months, I have read a lot of Emerson. Some might even say an unhealthy amount of Emerson - but then I think that reading a lot of Emerson has to be better for my psyche than watching a lot of CNN or reading a lot of MSNBC.COM.
I like what Emerson says in Self Reliance - I think this has a lot to say about deciding for ourselves how we feel about the economy. WE decide whether we have confidence about the economy. Not the government. Not the Fed. Not some Harvard, Yale or MIT educated economist. We decide when it's time for us to take the economy back. We even get to decide whether we scrap the economic systems we have now and design new ones.
If we believe that we don't get to make the decisions, that some office in Washington or on Wall Street gets to do it, then we are in deeper trouble than I thought.
"At times the whole world seems to be in conspiracy to importune you with emphatic trifles. Friends, client, child, sickness, fear, want, charity, all knock at once at thy closet door and say, - "Come out unto us". But keep thy state; come not into their confusion. The power men possess to annoy me I give them by a weak curiosity. No man can come near me but through my act"
I'm not saying to be a Pollyanna or to deny there is bad news - certainly people facing economic disaster are not "trifles".
But, there are times when it is appropriate just to shut off the TV and do something else.
Reading the scriptures might be a good place to start. We claim to be a "Christian nation". I have, of late, found great comfort in the 6th chapter of Matthew's gospel (verses 25-34), quoted here in full from the New King James Version of the bible (it's a long passage):
25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
I do not know what tomorrow will bring for me - it might even be financial ruin. But, my desire is to own my fear, and create my own hope. No one can make me be afraid. No one can make me lose hope. The only person who can do either of those things to me is ME.