It is easy to get unsettled listening to the news these days. It started out with Wall Street, then the auto maker’s bailout package; AT&T layoffs; and just this morning I turned on the radio and heard that the Chicago Tribune, owner of the Chicago Cubs, is filing for bankruptcy. As my blood pressure started to rise and I got that butterfly feeling in my stomach, I was reminded of those sage words from that ancient book, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhLGA96fvMc . The truly wise teaching that transcends time and has a very profound affect on today’s crisis is this, “Don’t Panic.”
My mother was born at the beginning of the depression when things were really starting to get tight. She was the youngest of five children, and her father was a Southern Arkansas sharecropper. One of her lessons to us was that no matter what happens with the economy and money, we can still make our way in life and we won’t starve. She points to her parents and says that if they could feed five children during the Great Depression, then we can handle anything that comes our way. DON’T PANIC.
My father was also born during the Great Depression in the Western Kansas area that was hit so hard by the Dustbowl. In order to save the farm, Great Grandpa called back all of his kids and their spouses to live at home and work at any possible job to make ends meet and keep the farm. Several couples were living in that house and working at odd jobs to keep the farm going. Grandma told stories about seeing dust in the distance and driving hurriedly to town in the Model T to get the kids from school before the dust storm hit. After one of these storms there would be dust everywhere and you would have to shovel the sidewalks. The lesson of the story is that they did survive, and they did keep the farm that has been in the family for four generations. DON’T PANIC.
It is true that the economy is falling all around us and that things are going to change. There will be some truly bad things come out of this time of distress, but we may see some truly great things happen as well. For example, maybe America will as a whole pay more attention to preserving the environment and drive fuel efficient cars or take public transportation, maybe we will out of necessity begin recycling items and reusing them in creative ways, maybe families will become closer, and maybe we will finally see ourselves as part of the worldwide culture where our indulgence and excess has consequences on other parts of the world. DON’T PANIC.
Finally, be sure to remember that when things get tough all you have to do is tell yourself that the “answer to the Great Question, of Life, the Universe and Everything is Forty-two.”
(Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).