In Which I Don’t Mind Everyone Panicking

So the bailout plan failed in the House, and the Dow dropped another 500 points. Also, CitiGroup bought out Wachovia. This whole financial crisis is getting worse and worse, and if there’s not some kind of miracle cure our economy is going to be in tatters soon, if it isn’t already.

And I don’t really mind. I don’t begrudge anyone prosperity, and I don’t have some sort of hatred for free-market capitalism, but it’s been obvious for a while that this country is far too materialistic. This moral code of “do-whatever-you-can-to-get-more-stuff” has come to its logical conclusion, and it’s kind of strange to see everyone freaking out when it’s fairly obvious that if your whole society is based on commercialism, you’re going to end up in serious trouble when things go south (and they always do).

So I hope maybe this changes things for us. Maybe this gets us to think about what is enduring, what is worthwhile, what is serious, what is right. I’m including myself in this because I can be just as self-focused and materialistic as the next guy, but what if we start to focus on others instead. What if we think about the world outside our frame of reference, outside of our probably tiny sphere of influence? What if we start to really understand that there are people living in poverty we can’t even really imagine, and they’re in this country. And then, if you take that unimaginable poverty and multiply it, there’s people living a life like that in the rest of the world. Maybe we can get away from always focusing on the latest styles and labels (again, including myself because I can be too clothes-focused sometimes). Having tried not buying any clothes for a year, it’s so ridiculously easy that I felt like I didn’t really accomplish anything; it’s so simple to go without things once you try.

So I’m a little hopeful about this economic crisis. I’m optimistic that it will birth invention, morality, empathy, and community. I’m optimistic that it will help people be able to afford health care and schooling, and that when we learn to go without and realize that we’re still living richer than almost everyone in the world, maybe we’ll try helping other people in this country and others, and realize that deep down we always knew it was the right thing to do, we just forgot because we had so much.

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