This recession is still getting heavy play in the media, but in addition to the terrifying doomsday stories that keep us all on heightened anxiety alert (â€œie: The gap between the rich and the poor will continue to widenâ€¦Itâ€™s one the worst recessions in our countryâ€™s historyâ€¦13 million people are facing unemploymentâ€¦more than 30 million people are relying on food stampsâ€¦. â€), a few stories about the upsides are starting to get some real attention. In fact the goddess of goodness herself (Oprah, who Cemetery Mary has long since forgiven for not taking her seat at my funeral) just did a whole show about folks whoâ€™ve dropped a few notches in social classes due to some severe financial set backs. And do you know what? Instead of turning into bitter nuts, they are surviving AND becoming, in the process, more compassionate, empathic humans.
Turning crap into compost is what we do people.
It appears that formerly successful white collar workers once belonging to the upper-middle-class now stand in line at the unemployment office and realize for the first time that the unemployed are not a heap of unmotivated, uneducated or lazy losers. Because many freewheeling spenders have been forced to downsize, they have also learned that it is possible to be just as happy with less money. They have refocused their energy on family, friends and their lifeâ€™s passion.
And speaking of continuing to follow oneâ€™s heart, todayâ€™s SF Chronicle reprinted the journalist Barbara Ehrenreichâ€™s commencement address to UC Berkeley Journalism graduates in which she talks about how sheâ€™s had to recommit to her passion for telling the story that needs to be told despite the long hours and lousy pay. She informs the graduates that they are trying to carve out a career in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. â€œYou are furthermore going to be trying to do so within what appears to be a dying industry.â€
Ehrenreich goes on to ask the students how they think it feels to be an autoworker right now? Or a laidoff paper mill worker, construction worker, or miner? â€œSo let me be the first to say this to you: Welcome to the American working class.â€
Ehrenreichâ€™s students and Oprahâ€™s guests all seem to embrace the economic challenges with a feisty compassion for focusing on whatâ€™s important. Though Ehrenreich was directing her comments to a group of journalists, her message is resonant with all workers of all social classes who are forced to accept the new reality of this job market.
â€œAs long as there is a story to be told, an injustice to be exposed, a mystery to be solved, we will find a way to do it. A recession wonâ€™t stop us. A dying industry wonâ€™t stop us. Even poverty wonâ€™t stop us because we are all on a mission here.â€
Thatâ€™s right, whatâ€™s the point of whining and worrying when there are so many missions to be accomplished?
What is your mission?
Do something to move it forward today.