All the progress made in 2008 by motivated entrepreneurs and optimistic working folk was flushed down the old porcelain convenience post Lehman Brothers' collapse. 2009 was the year to hang on for dear life and hope you made it through. It was like standing on the Titanic watching all the Big Banks jump into the lifeboats leaving you two choices: sink or swim. If you managed to swim in 2009 and not get pulled down with the ship, you might be asking, what do I do now?
The New Year 2010 has begun and with it green shoots of Hope have sprung in the hearts of the resilient. Larry Summers, President O's Chief Economic Advisor, swears that "everyone agrees that the recession is over." Those words ring false for the millions upon millions whose incomes have been cut in half or completely wiped out, for the tens of millions more whose net worth is a fraction of 2007 values. For the millions of jobless or financially devastated who feel abandoned or forgotten, these words inspire rage and despair. Those left to their own resources without lifeboats over the past 16 months do not agree, Mr. Summers - the recession is not over, not for ordinary folks, not by a long shot.
So what is it all about, Alfie? What was the point of all that? Where do we go from here?
Why are you or any of us here? What is this whole thing - life, liberty, financial ruin all about? These are the questions for millennia; these are the questions for the moment at hand.
I don't know the meaning to life if it is not to help others as we help ourselves to serve a higher purpose by making the world a better place. While that may be a deep truth, it will not necessarily pay the bills.
I ask all these questions of you, because I have been asking these of myself.
It can get pretty hopeless out here in the wasteland of the devastated American economy. I look around and see great misery and suffering, some of which the rest of the world has always known, but for my generation is new. What do I tell them, how do I bring them hope for a better future?
First of all, I want to remind everyone, even those facing homelessness and bankruptcy, it is never just about money. There is always a bigger picture.
Money makes the world go around only to a degree. It buys us food, shelter, clothing, perhaps medical care and education. Things we need to survive. But we already know it does not buy us love, nor does it buy us compassion, or sensitivity to the pain of others, nor relief from apathy. That comes from the heart. That comes from a greater place than cannot be explained easily in words.
So while you are going through your great financial challenges and hoping to pull yourself up from the boot straps for 2010, remember one thing: there is always a greater plan. This too shall pass and you will be once again back on your feet having learned important lessons along the way.
Remember too: it's only money. Money pays for your lifestyle, keeps you in your home and in the mainstream of the living. But it does not say who you are, no matter how much you have or don't. More importantly it does not reveal how you are inside, your heart, your mind, your soul. No matter what, you always have that.
Sometimes we think, I am so good, why is this happening to me? Haven't I done so much for so many, shouldn't I be rewarded for that? Yes, absolutely. And so we are rewarded every day for our good deeds in the warmth and support we give and receive from others. Not necessarily in monetary terms.
What does all of this have to do with Good Business and earning a living? Everything. That is what we cannot forget. We are not our bank books, portfolios, or careers. We are living breathing souls with Goodness on our side and a greater plan guiding us through it all. We can't forget that. The good don't always die young; sometimes they live to be very old like Desmond Tutu or Mother Teresa. Financial reward is not necessarily in the picture.
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