I'm going to depart from my usual topic of women's parity to do some flag waving. I've been pretty disheartened by the talk of imminent calamity facing our country and I'd like to offer up an alternate narrative.
Yes we are in a recession. Yes it is the worse recession many of us have faced. But let's face it------most of us have lived in unprecedented good times, and many of us wouldn't really know hardship if it hit us in the nose. You can study the statistics and paint a story of our country finally facing its twilight days as a first rate power. Lots of people are doing just that. I've lived through five recessions as an adult, and every single time people have talked about the fact that we are facing the end just like the downfall of the Roman Empire. One party claims the other party is fiddling as Rome burns.
It is in vogue right now to yell and scream about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. There is alot of data to back up this claim. It is especially the talk of the day to berate the compensation of corporate CEO's because it is so out of proportion with what the rest of us are making. It's not the first time that this topic has been brought up. We've seen this discussion back in the 1980's. Only this time it is we baby boomers taking alot of the blame for our profligate ways that have caused this imminent demise, the results of which will be borne by our children and grandchildren. We heard all of that before as the holy grail until the economy rebounded in the 1990's and the deficit, the one we would be paying for for the next 150 years, just evaporated.
When my husband and I got out of college, jobs were hard to come by. My husband took a job in a city where neither one of us had ever been and we knew nobody. He made $11,000 a year as a starting engineer. I taught private music lessons when I could. We owned nothing, and we spent our first month sleeping on the floor using our coats as pillows until we had enough money to buy a mattress. We were just happy to be employed.
Throughout our 39 years together we have lived through 5 recessions. We had been doing well each time until my husband lost his job twice because of an industrywide layoff. One of the times we were abandoned in a city with an toddler, the end of our lease, no job, and no place to live. We moved in with my father until things improved. I had just gotten out of the music business and into my own business as a brand spanking new Mary Kay consultant.
The second layoff was more serious. We had 2 children at that point, no health insurance, and I was running for office and in the public eye. My Mary Kay business, well established at this point, saved us and allowed my husband to take the 8 months he needed to get himself situated again.
My story is unremarkable as many of us lived through these difficult times with varying degrees of adjustment we all had to make to get through them. Such is life.
I'm watching all of the pundits, talking heads, and protesters talk and talk and talk about how horrible things are and I'm at the point where I feel we need to stop being so negative lest we create the very things we are talking about. You will get no argument from me that right now times could be better. I'm not disagreeing that some things need to change to prevent certain calamities from repeating themselves in the future. But I know one thing as certainly as I believe anything: we live in a great nation that is going through a down time, and our great nation will right itself as it has every other time we've been faced with difficulties. We've faced worse than this as a nation, and we've come out on top, and we will do it again.
Last weekend I attended a naturalization ceremony here in Columbus, OH, and there they were--------200 proud new American citizens from all over the world, each with a story to tell about how they were able to achieve this most sought after goal of U.S. citizenship. They were dressed in their finest, families and friends in tow, beaming with pride, waving their little American flags, tears in all of our eyes as they took the oath of citizenship. In the middle of one of the worst economic times in the past 50 years, people are still banging down the doors to become Americans. These scenes of naturalizations are repeated in cities all over the country all of the time. Why do they keep coming if things are so bad? It is because we are still the land of opportunity.
There is much tense talk right now about how government money is needed to not only jump-start the economy but also to invest in industries that the free market won't invest in. It's a highly emotional debate no matter which side you argue. However, it is little noted in the middle of this debate that many many fortunes in this country have been and are being made without the intervention of government. The American dream is very much alive. You can still start out with nothing in this country and you can still become wealthy. You can start out with nothing and still become comfortable and secure. It is no small coincidence that the phrase "tough times never last but tough people do" was coined in the United States.
I am an Independent Senior Sales Director with Mary Kay, and it is my privilege and honor to work every single day helping mostly women achieve more financial security and financial freedom through owning their own Mary Kay businesses. My industry has been recession proof, and every day while people are pooh-poohing our country because it is so bad, I watch courageous women pull themselves up out of difficult situations by dint of their own efforts as they grow their businesses. Only in a great country such as ours can people even dream of doing such a thing. It is still true that for those who are willing to work hard and take a few risks, the American dream is alive.
I am not discounting the suffering that this recession has wrought. I have seen those problems up close as well. And it must be remembered that even in boom times, people must do without in our great nation. We have not eliminated poverty nor have we cured all our social ills. But I am not ready to throw our country onto the dust heap of history yet. We will get ourselves out of this recession and our economy will rise again. And we will bring the rest of the world along with us. We still have what it takes to be all we've ever dreamed for in America. Our future is still looking bright. We need to start speaking a little more positively these days and appreciate the great things that still define the United States of America.
Oh, and while I'm on this subject, I'd like to add that while we've got a long way to go to achieve gender parity in our country, I am optimistic about that goal too. We'll just have to keep at it until women have arrived at 50% representation. To quit is to admit failure, and to keep going no matter what is to believe we will see the day when the entire conversation of gender parity will be one big yawn of days gone by that no one can even remember. I believe in it all. The story of our great nation is still being written.........