Saturday, August 14, 2010

Economic and Moral Microcosm

I am Greece. I am Spain. I am Portugal. I am the U.S. I am Ireland.

I, like each of these countries, have spent years spending like a drunken sailor, living far beyond my means. Peter and Paul aren't speaking with me anymore because I've spent so much time robbing one to pay the other. I've rotated my debt in order to keep on spending, hoping against hope, and any realistic assessment of reality, that somehow it would all work itself out in the end without me having to make drastic changes.

Well, reality does have a nasty habit of eventually catching up with our self imposed fantasies. And with each succeeding step of living in fantasy the cost grows higher and the climb back to level ground is steeper. If we're fortunate enough to have this reality stare us in the face early on, we can adjust our thinking and behavior accordingly and turn things around with a minimal amount of pain.

But if we have a reservoir of support available to us and a system which rewards conspicuous consumption through easy credit than the temptation is very strong to go along for the ride. I bought that lie. I bought the lie that I could buy whatever I wanted based on future earnings which would counteract my current excesses. I, along with my various creditors, believed that the road always rises and never falls. We now both know better.

We live in perilous times of great economic and social uncertainty and upheaval. I can't say what others should do but I know that I have a choice to make in response to my own situation. I have a moral obligation now just as much as I have had at every step of the way in this economic journey to indebtedness. I can either walk away and neglect my responsibility for my part in bringing this about and blame everyone around me for my woes, or I can own up to what I've done and not done and get to the dirty but ultimately noble business of cutting back to bare essentials and work harder to bring myself back up to level ground.

I have spent years being consumed by rampant consumerism and have found myself slowly dying of consumption. I'm therefore faced with very difficult choices brought about by all of my previous choices. But face them I must. The issue isn't whether I will make a choice, it's what choice will I make? Will I continue in this long slumber fed by the ever droning commercial narcotics streaming into my ears and eyes, burrowing deep into my very soul? Or will I awake from this deadly dream to a new day of harsh choices, but which I can at least be content to know that I will have dealt with reality on reality's terms?

A crisis at the right time be a true blessing if it awakens us to what is true and necessary.

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