Time to Speak the Truth

This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance…They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.

More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it…Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.—Franklin D. Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address

Some things to think about…at the time FDR took office, almost 40% of the workforce was unemployed. Banks were failing by the thousands. National income went from 81 billion to 41 billion between 1929 and 1932. Economic turmoil was worldwide. Sound familiar?

Yes, things aren’t great now, and the signs point that they will get worse. However, the gloom and doom that saturates the news and conversations is somewhat pointless. Clearly, as bad, if not worse, times were experienced in the past, and societies and countries survived. Who exactly do you think will solve the problems we face if it isn’t ourselves? Isn’t it time that instead of only talking about how bad the problems are we focused on how to fix them?

One of the best examples of words taking the place of much-needed action was the Big Three CEOs in Washington begging the government for money. Never mind that they flew there on their private planes (undermines the “need” argument a bit). Why aren’t they back in Detroit examining their companies from top to bottom looking for ways to fix the problems their companies face? In this instance, actions speak louder then words. Even those politicians that are willing to consider loaning these companies the money want a plan that shows how these struggling entities will become successful. Words alone aren’t enough anymore. We have to make a conscious decision to act.

We have two choices: one, we can succumb to all that is bad and hunker down, hoping that the worse will pass us by, or two, we can dig in and use some of that ingenuity that seems to have been tossed by the wayside in recent months. One person won’t solve this problem. The sooner we recognize that a brave knight isn’t waiting to ride to our rescue, the faster we can move towards future success. Make the commitment to seek out the people who are talking about real solutions and ignore the people who say the sky is falling. The sky may still fall, but the solutions people will have developed a sky-proof helmet before it happens.


6 Responses to “Time to Speak the Truth”

  1. November 22, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Great stuff. So true. Isn’t it amazing how the more things change, the more they stay the same? The world rotates and we come full circle in historical perspective. I agree that we need to remember the lessons we’ve learned from the past which will help us today and in the future. Also valid if your point about the downside to being positive in such a negative time (thanks to the news media and its penchant for gloom and doom): There isn’t any real downside! If the sky still falls we’ll still be in a better position than we would’ve been had we stuck our heads in the ground and gave up. I say we put up a valiant fight and emerge victorious. We’re Americans and we are survivors. Thanks for the history lesson!

    American Pai

  2. 2 flipgonzo
    November 22, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Well stated. I agree wholeheartedly.
    “One person won’t solve this problem.” However, the one person just elected president can lead us all to solve the problem. Those of us with a point of view can and should join the leadership team.
    My spin is GW has not lead anyone anywhere for the last 8 years other than the chosen few to line their pockets.
    The concept of ‘we’ and ‘community’ has been lost, disregarded and bastardized.
    I have lost faith in the media to be journalists. They are a different version of reality tv. Unscripted but well edited with extreme bias toward earnings.
    It is my hope that in a few months when the political ‘reins’ are removed there will be a renewed commitment to each other in this country. That is democracy. The many joined together to work for the good of the whole.
    Be well.

  3. 3 katbron
    November 22, 2008 at 8:36 am

    Thank you. Too often I get sucked into negative conversations that are problem-centric where no solutions are ever discussed. Thank you for the message that I have to get involved in the solution. So many times I wring my hands with all the gloom and doom and don’t think there is anything I can do to help. I can start by directing these conversations toward a solution and by asking “so what are we gonna do about it?”

  4. 4 LiberalSpirit
    November 22, 2008 at 9:30 am

    I am not generally a defender of the Big 3, but it has to be said the problem is more complex than them begging the government for money, private jets notwithstanding. And in that regard, I don’t recall a hue and cry of the current magnitude when we bailed out the mortgage industry, where prosecuted fraud was involved. It’s easy to take pot-shots at the execs, but if the Big 3 fail, hundreds of thousands of people who aren’t making seven-figure salaries will pay the price. I live in Detroit, and I know many already have.

    That said, you make an excellent point. I would add only that we often fail to realize how much higher a standard of living we all still have, as opposed to life in FDR’s day. We come from a position of strength, we just don’t always see it that way.

    I have a suggestion: Start the day with gratitude for all that you have, even if it isn’t all that you’ve ever wanted.

  5. 5 Britt
    November 22, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    @paisano: Excellent thoughts…I’d also add that while we shouldn’t wallow in the gloom and doom, we also need to have a solid understanding of what’s happening. I’m looking for a balance, a clear outline of the problems combined with potential solutions. Right now, we’re weighed down by all the ugly with hope kept hidden. It’s time to let the positive play an active role in our day-to-day perspectives.

    @flipgonzo: I agree that a leader with vision plays an important role in finding and implementing solutions. However, I do believe that an Obama presidency, as anticipated as any in recent years, will have difficulty living up to expectations, including serving as a source for solutions. While Obama’s win was historic, he still faces the status quo of American government. He will likely be able to implement some changes, but I worry how attitudes will change for the worse if he isn’t able to make all the changes.

    @katbron: I’m glad to hear that someone else was looking for another way to view the current situation.

    @LiberalSpirit: My argument related to the Big 3 CEOs was too simplistic. You are correct that the comparison as is falls short. I believe the better example they make is one of being unprepared. These men are leaders of large companies and when questioned about how they’ll use the money they’re requesting, they couldn’t provide a complete answer. You also make an excellent point about the other companies that were bailed out. I think we made a mistake about not demanding greater transparency in those deals and requiring a plan for how they would solve the problem.

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