In the movie Saving Private Ryan, the mom of the Ryan brothers is spared losing her final son to WW2. First, she received news of one son being killed. Then another. And, I think there may have been one more before Tom Hanks is sent to save Matt Damon. Imagine how hopeless she was at that time. All she was getting was bad news. How could she have a positive outlook?
We thrive on hope…on the most simple things inspiring and motivating us. We don’t have any of that right now and that is part of the problem. Case in point:
The Freakonomics Blog at the New York Times has a post on “Who Wins for Best Recession Cover?” They compare the covers of The Economist and Time. One of the folks mentioned in the piece says that the Time cover is “better” because it evokes sadness.
I understand that we are in a recession and the economy is no good. However, it strikes me that the first thing we need to do is stop re-enforcing everyone’s fears and instead inspire some optimism and confidence in folks. That is the first step to recovery. I suppose the stimulus was supposed to do this…but quite surprisingly it hasn’t (maybe because it is not the right thing to do).
One of the things President Bush did right was expressing profound confidence following 9/11. America went back to work. Maybe that is easier to do when we can unite against an enemy rather than against an economic collapse. Nonetheless, our leaders from President Obama to Governor Markell to legislatures across the country may want to consider taking a time out from the doom and gloom, no matter how realistic and honest they are being, and start inspiring.
It is times like these when some empty rhetoric is good and justified.
The bottom line is that the public get that things are bad. We don’t need to keep hearing it.