Peace to you this season. [more]
It's December 16, 2008, and today is another bad news day for me. The news I'm getting is probably similar to yours.
The report on my 401K came and now I know how McArthur must felt have when he surveyed Pearl Harbor on December 9, 1941. I've lost half my "power."
A good friend called - she lost her job.
Our new high in American corporate corruption may be reached by Robert Madoff's $50 billion (right, that's a "b") Ponzi scheme. That came to light last week, but today's news is that at least three good charities will close their doors because of it.
Here's another one that caught my eye: our government has printed $1 trillion dollars in new money since, get this...September.
Note: Don't worry, today it appears the Fed will fix our problem - we are going to lend money to each other for (drum roll, please) 0% interest! (For anyone who has spent more than a day in business, step back and think that one over for a minute.)
Luckily, just as my body began to convulse and I started searching for my friend, Jack Daniels (it's 8.30 am), I remembered several experiences I've had in the last ten days.
The first that came to me was the get well card my cousin Peg sent to her parish priest a few days before she died. Father John left his sickbed to be at her funeral and he read the card to us. It said:
"I'm worried about you, Father, and I pray for you each day. Me? I am happy. I am so thankful for each day that my daughters are with me."
Last Wednesday I was with my young friend Akouete, a refugee from Togo (Africa), who struggled (imagine going to college in a second language) to get his electrical engineering degree this past May. For whatever reasons, he's been unable to secure a job and he's now faced with a green card that runs out in June if he doesn't find something.
Before leaving him I said "How are you financially?"
He smiled and said, "I have savings."
I was relieved. Then I thought to ask, "How much?"
"$100," he said as the air went out of my sails.
I then looked in my email box and I got a note this morning from Sister Gladys, the Kenyan nun who we visited last month. (I will write a little of Gladys' work in the next episode of our website www.thebusinessofgood.org)
After telling me in the first half of her email that she was sorry she hasn't gotten the drawings to me for a project we may do with her due to cancerous masses found on her liver last week, she ended her email as follows: (unedited)
"There is nothing bad all will be good as I have felt through God's help.
With all these, my mind is fully in the farm and the engineere is already working on the plan which l will have to send as soon as l can god willing.
God is always before all that l'm doing, and with my daily prayers, all will be as god wants. With Him everything is possible.
With love and prayers,
By this time, of course, Jack Daniels was no longer of interest to me.
I was reminded by the courage and inspiration of my cousin, my young friend Akoute and my new friend Gladys that the Robert Madoffs have been with us since the beginning of time and will be here at the end.
I even remembered that if my 401k collapses with the whole economy this week, that next week I will still be sitting in a warm living room around a tree with my three kids and Alice.
Upon leaving one of the projects we visited in Africa, I said to my son Tim that I was blown away how everyone was so positive despite the bone crushing poverty they lived in. He said, "That's actually not how I saw it, Dad".
I was puzzled.
He then said, "What I thought I saw was pretty much the same thing we have back home. 20% of the people we are visiting seem heroically optimistic, 20% hopelessly pessimistic and 60% were trying to decide which way to go".
So at least for the rest of today, I've decided to try to hang with the first group Timmy describes.
Peace to you this season.