Tuesday, March 31, 2009

This is good for us?

Last Saturday I went to get the mail and pulled the current Time magazine from the mail box:

If you want to see the cover, go to this link: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/current

What got my attention was the seven word headline under “The End of Excess.” That headline read: “Why this crisis is good for America.” When I read those words, I thought that the magazine cover was an April Fool’s joke from Time.

If you want to read the cover story, go here:

Among many things the author, Kurt Andersen, said was that we we’ve been on a gambling binge in the past years, that the party is finally over, and that this correction will make us better people.

This economic crisis is good for America? Hmmm. Since the start of the year I’ve talked to many people who are scared—scared about their jobs, wondering what they would do to feed their families if they lost their jobs, worried about losing health care. I don’t think that they would describe their anxiety as good.

As I read the article I thought I was hearing my mom say to me “you shouldn’t have eaten that candy bar last night, eat your cooked spinach even though you don’t like it, and because you’ve eaten that terribly tasting food you will be a better person.”

I don’t think I would spin our economic crisis into such a simplistic moral storyline. A storyline that says, we were bad, we deserve to suffer because we were bad, we’ll take our medicine, and emerge as better people in the future.

During the worst personal crisis of my life a counselor told me, “you’ll be a better person because of what you’re going through.” I immediately responded, “if this is the way to be a better person, then I don’t want to be a better person.”

I think suffering can be redemptive and that it is possible to be more complete people because of suffering. I also think that suffering can cause people so much pain that they never recover.

I believe in the power of the prophets—but now is not the time to be a prophet. We needed to heed Jeremiah and Amos’ strong words during the earlier part of this decade. Right now we need to offer people comfort and a listening ear—and help people find jobs if they are unemployed. Spinning the last decade into a simple morality play doesn’t seem to be helpful.

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