Norman Mailer, the prolific writer, once wrote: "A hero embodies his time, and is not so very much better than his time, but he is larger than life and so is capable of giving direction to the time, able to encourage a nation to discover the deepest colors of its character."
Mailer's definition of a hero is not applicable to any individual in this uncertain time, financially and militarily, in our national life. Instead, the term could be applied collectively to us, the American people. We are unnerved, but we are not panicking, we are scared, but we are not frightened, and we are worried, but we are beaten despite what the powers to be say.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, chief among chiefs who control the money supply in the U.S., said Tuesday before Congress that "numerous difficulties" persist despite the Federal Bank's attempt to control inflation, joblessness, and mortgage defaults. He added, "Many financial markets and institutions remain under considerable stress."
So here is where the hero, the American people, comes in. This is where we come in individually and together. First of all, we get our own financial house in order. We examine our debts, we create something resembling a budget, we examine our retirement plans, we continue shopping, but with caution, and we plan the future now (college, retirement, paying off debts), not later.
And, we as a people remain steadfast in our American government. This is an election year. A president, one-third of the U.S. Senate and every congressman is up for election, plus numerous state and local officials. We get involved and find out what these people are up to. It doesn't matter to what party they belong (even though they would like us to blindly vote for them on a party basis) and find out what they will do to stabilize our dollar and how much pain we are going to suffer until things get better. They may get worse before better, so be prepared. Ben Bernanke is not optimistic for the short-term.
I am optimistic. Somehow these downturns have a bright side. They bring out the real character of us, the American People. Remember 9/11? Everyone was concerned briefly for one another and got over our cultural hang-ups. Why can't this innate character shine again as we dig ourselves out of another hole we had no part in creating?
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