Sunday, March 1, 2009

Optimism

I've noticed there is economy fatigue doing the rounds where I live. The economy isn't something people want to talk about. I am left to speculate why but I think it's a feeling of helplessness combined with a desperate hope for the best. Seeing that attitude amongst my colleagues and friends is understandable but seeing among the people who lead us is a bit disturbing.

I continue to find myself surprised that there is a general belief expressed, that "after this is over" we will"get back to normal." Normal in this case seems to be the vision of a booming economy with money to spread around in numerous shops and ever expanding forms of entertainment and electronic gadgetry, just as we lived in the recent boom years. I don't think things will go back as they were before, and all I have is history to back me up.
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During World War One the idea was that the war to end all wars would restore the Edwardian Era to European monied classes. The war brought on a decade long boom which ended in Depression, but the Edwardian Era was gone forever. World War Two was fought to secure the future against fascism and it ushered in the era of empire disguised as the endless Cold War. And when the Iron Curtain imploded we hoped for a peace dividend which would bring us all prosperity. Instead we got declining wages, rising debt and a desperate drive to stay above water. Now that bubble has exploded and we are supposed to be able to expect another round of prosperity when we get over this hump. I find it hard to believe, and so they label me a pessimist.
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I think of myself as cautiously optimistic if only because I think good things can come from change. The unfortunate part is that change has to be forced on us because we are human and change is what we resist. Even our leaders don't really want to see change, they reinforce our dead banks, and permit extravagance to continue in the upper echelons because that's the way things are done amongst the powerful. However change will come and it's up to us to see that it turns out well. Riding the bus instead of riding the Bonneville seems like a step down, and it will be a change. I intend to take my book along with me and read a novel instead of burning five dollar gas to get to work. The bus ride will be a peaceful interlude of forced relaxation.
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Expensive electrons will drag us away from our screens and we will be forced to deal with each other face to face, a prospect I dread. Already i have had enough vacuous gardening conversations I realise I am going to have to take classes om small talk top survive the post Depression recovery in our Brave New World. I never said It was easy to be an optimist, just obligatory.

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