Every headline now screams that times are bad and getting worse. Local papers tell us how many homes were foreclosed on in our town, how many jobs were lost in our state, how many schools and libraries are having to cut from their budgets. On TV, the newscasters bring us all the gloomy news from other countries, and radio talk show hosts don’t talk about anything else. Even food networks tell us how to cook on a tight budget. I just got a health newsletter that advised me to stock up on bath soap and toilet paper in case it becomes unavailable.
I can’t fault the media for reporting the news. We’re in a serious fix. But I wonder if we aren’t in danger of becoming so negative about the economy that we create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I’m also wondering if some other people are staying home and saving their money for the same reason I am — we’re like people who’ve just come out of a serious illness, but we’re still weak and trembly. For many of us, the presidential election wasn’t a contest between two parties or two personalities. It was a moment when the world teetered on the brink of falling deeper into ignorant destruction or moving upward to wholeness and sanity. Those of us who felt that way were euphoric when Obama was elected. Not because he’d won over a rival politician, but because we believed his intelligence and vision offered hope of a better world. We still feel that way.
But after any fever breaks, there’s always a weak time before you’re totally well. That’s the stage I’m in. That means instead of going out to eat, I want my own homemade soup. Instead of buying new clothes, I want to put on an old ratty sweater and read a good book. I figure I’ll be ready to spend money after January 20. I think a lot of other people feel the same way. If I’m right, things are going to get better after January 20. Not because Obama will do something magical, but because people like me will have shaken off the sickness of the last eight years.