Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How To Remain Hopeful in the Midst of the Worst Financial Crisis Since the Great Depression Part I

By Miriam B. Medina

Every time the New Year begins, previous unfinished resolutions are recycled and new ones are established. Some concern losing that extra 20 lbs we gained over the Holidays, some of us are intent on finally pursuing a career or whatever else it is that one wishes to accomplish in life. The New Year brings change; it is like a fresh start that brings hope. Hope for a better world and a safer life. Hope for economic growth and an opportunity to strengthen significant relationships with family, friends and neighbors. We take inventory of our lives and try to change directions if need be. It is a time for soul-searching, goal setting, and improving ourselves. We focus on being a more productive intending to working harder, use our intellect and daring to be enterprising, and set goals to motivate ourselves. Above all, the New Year is a time where we feel we want to become a better, more useful, and happier human being.

Unfortunately, the closing of 2010 and the beginning of the year 2011, has found America as well as the entire Globe in difficult economic conditions which are sucking us into its chaos at a disturbing speed, making money scarce and credit harder to come by and more expensive. This is part one of a three-part series intended to help you remain positive, to learn how to hang on to hope in the New Year, in the face of the harshest economic crisis of our lives.

For most people, it's not a typical New Year, an occasion to set goals or to pursue careers, but instead it is a time when people are changing jobs, surviving cutbacks and wage decreases. Many are seeking employment in a barren labor market, being fired, or simply fighting to hold onto jobs they already have. The disastrous economic baggage from one year to another continues to drag on with no end in sight, while people struggle with fixed overhead expenses, trying to support themselves and their families. Retired seniors living on fixed pensions and social security benefits, individuals with little or no income, and the swollen ranks of unemployed are also having a hard time keeping up with their rent and mortgage obligations and paying bills. Parents with children in a higher education program are experiencing the crunch of the current economic malaise. Let's not forget to mention the other unforeseen issues and calamities that interrupt the normal flow of our daily lives, like illnesses, accidents and unforeseen expenses. Some individuals are still fortunate enough to have a nest egg as a cushion to fall back on, though it is dwindling, while others with limited means who live from hand to mouth are terrified by the economic collapse with utterly no guarantee that the worst is behind us.

Many Disturbing reports have been received in the past few years with no good financial indicators to act as a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. Plants and factories are still shutting down, massive unemployment, bankrupt businesses, banks closing their doors, and farm and home foreclosures. Jubilant Investors who were celebrating record highs in the stock market only a few years ago are now severely crushed by devastating losses.

As a result of layoffs and rising costs, many have been pushed over the brink, facing the nightmare of homelessness. Families that have lost their homes have had to depend on relatives or friends in order to survive. Others who were less fortunate have been forced to seek refuge at local shelters or have taken to the cold, heartless streets. It is said that in some communities, tent cities are going up as the shelters overflow beyond capacity. Charitable non-profit organizations that provide shelters, food, and medical and psychiatric care to needy individuals are hard hit by the current uncertainty of our economy. These groups are in dire need of financial support in order to continue keeping their doors open.

There are many Americans that are suffering physical and emotional hardships because they are not able to afford medical insurance or because they have lost their coverage as a result of unemployment. The emergency rooms and free care clinics are filled to the brim with needy individuals who are forced to seek free medical treatment where most are given "low priority status, unless critical."

The fact is, times are tough no matter how you cut it, no matter what you hear any politician say. You can see it with your eyes, the vacant homes, the rising costs of utilities and food as the inflation sets in. You hear it in the news, the unemployment numbers and the jobless claims. You can drive through any city and look at the lengthening bread lines. Call it a Depression, call it the Great Recession, call it what you will, for the foreseeable future it is simply our reality.

Not exactly Come All Ye Faithful or Jingle Bells, but it is a song filled with truth, one that most carolers will be forced to sing this Christmas season. Not exactly a joyous way to ring in the New Year on January 1st, is it?

So I ask you, my dear readers, this question: How do we as individuals remain hopeful in the midst of such difficult economic times as we are overwhelmed by such massive unemployment? How do we dig ourselves out of this hole, as more and more debt closes in upon us, burying us in economic mire so deep that it seems as though we might never escape it? How do we find that turn of the year hope and motivation that gets us through the Holidays when so many are hurting so badly and we all seemingly are affected by this once a century crisis? In parts two and three of this three-part series, I will begin to break this dilemma down and try to help find ways that we can all move on and look forward to the New Year as we struggle to rebuild our shattered economy.

To be continued: Part II

To contact: miriammedina@earthlink.net


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