Saturday, March 07, 2009

Fear and Courage

From "Job Losses Hint at Vast Remaking of Economy" By PETER S. GOODMAN and JACK HEALY, Today's New York Times:

Some suggested the job cuts reflected the anxiety that gripped the financial system after Lehman Brothers failed. Borrowing costs have spiked for American companies, making businesses reluctant to expand and hire. And many companies remain spooked by the Wall Street collapse.

“There was a huge increase in uncertainty and a huge hit to confidence which caused a large rethinking among businesses,” said Ethan Harris, co-head of United States economics research at Barclays Capital.

In similar crises, like the stock market crash of 1987 and the near collapse of the enormous hedge fund Long Term Capital Management in 1998, dysfunction continued for about six months, Mr. Harris said. But history also shows that when fear lifts, the economy returns to wherever it was when the crisis began, he said, suggesting the recession is likely to continue for many more months.

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I was struck by the words and phrases I've put in italics above when I read this article this morning. There's a lot of truth in FDR's "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." Certainly in my work as a counselor, I see how people's fears result in consequences worse than they would be if they could make decisions from a place of trust and faith. It appears the same is true for the economy.

Not that fear it the sole cause of the problems. Obviously it's not. But it certainly seems to have already made things worse that they have to be, and continues to do so. People tend to make poor decisions from a place of panic.

Scripture is full of passages saying, "Do not fear," or "Be of good courage." I've found that doesn't come naturally to me at all, but like any part of the mind, body, or heart, courage and trust grow the more you exercise them.

I used to run hurdles...many years ago. I'm trying to look at the current economic situaion, and my less-employed state as a series of hurdles to run. It can certainly hurt to miss a hurdle and fall down--I had the occasional bloody knees back in those days--but if I'd listened to the fear of failure or pain or embarrassment, I suppose I never would have tried at all. Instead of that, though, along with the memories of bloody kness and sore shins, I also have memories of sailing over hurdle after hurdle, sometimes winning races, sometimes not, but enjoying the act itself no matter what.

Be of good courage!


Lucy said...

Money and economics is such a chimeric, abstract thing really, it seems it can be talked and willed into behaving in certain ways; it's not like hard scinecs that goes its own way anyway, perhaps.

Someone was telling me the other noght about a British journalist who has been accused of being partly instrumental in creating some of the problems he was apparently only reporting...

I hope you're weathering it OK, dear Sheila.

SusanO said...

I recently read that one of the most common commands in scripture is "Don't be afraid." It's usually followed by a reminder that "I, (God) will be with you. some of the worst decisions I have made in life were prompted by rampant, unfettered fears. God's grace grows my faith and teaches me to wait unitl I recieve strength from Him and wisdom as promised.