When the current recession first started more than a year ago many of us experienced a feeling of déjà vu. The economic situation seemed somewhat familiar and we initially thought that we had been there before. However, as the economic downturn accelerated and its global breadth and magnitude became more apparent, we began to feel that this situation was not familiar. It was different than anything we had experienced.
Instead of “déjà vu all over again,” it became increasingly clear that we were experiencing what comedian George Carlin called “vuja dé”. Vuja dé is that feeling that I don’t know where I am and I have never been here before. Technology has flattened the world and has created a social, political and economic landscape upon which we will be the first to set foot. For the most part, there is little useful history to rely on because it is a new world.
It is this feeling of “vuja dé” that has settled into our minds and caused us fear and uncertainty. Should we be frightened or should we be hopeful? The answer is “yes.” However, we should be more hopeful than frightened. While in Olympia recently, I listened to a speech by governor Chris Gregoire. The governor said that we should not “waste the opportunities that this crisis provides.” It is difficult for someone who has just lost their job to focus on opportunities. But, opportunities are all around us. Like most crisis we usually learn something from the experience. If we apply the lessons learned from this crisis we will end up better off than before. Most of us have already begun to re-prioritize what is important in our lives. For example, Americans are saving more and spending less. In the long run, it’s is good for us and our economy.
President Obama and other national leaders are also trying to act on the opportunities that this crises has created. The economic stimulus package will help stop the bleeding, but it is not the final solution.
Challenges like education, health care and green industry all offer tremendous opportunities.
But the government alone will not bail us out of our current situation. There is no magic bullet for this economic crisis, no magic bailout package, no magic stimulus. We have lost trust and we are going to have to live with uncertainty for much longer than we ever have before. But this does not mean that we should do nothing. If there is one lesson that history has taught us it is that we must support one another. Where we see hardship and need in our community we must step up and help our neighbors.
For example, I worry about our small businesses in Blaine. Even in the best of times our few businesses struggle. In these hard economic times, many of them are barely hanging on. Now is the time for us to help our businesses survive by supporting them with our dollars. We can make a difference by thinking “local first” before taking dollars outside of the Blaine area.
I also worry about the many volunteer organizations in our community. They are equally at risk in these difficult economic times. Blaine has a wonderful history of volunteer organizations that have made a difference. Just think of all the good things that would not get done if we did not have volunteers. In our small town they are a very important part of the fabric that makes our community a great place to live.
When we have asked you what it is about Blaine that you hope never changes, you invariably tell us that you want to preserve the feeling of “small community.” By this you mean the feeling of being connected to one another. You know your neighbors and community leaders. You support your schools and churches. It is this connectiveness and generosity that will allow our community to survive in these times and grow stronger.
There are many things over which we have little control. But, we should not feel hopeless or helpless. Our hope will guide us toward a better time and a better future. Our generosity and helpfulness will fuel our hope, hasten our recovery and strengthen this wonderful place we call our home.