I have been watching, most of the time with jaw dropping amazement, the response of our Government and their hirelings to our nation’s “economic crisis”. Where to start – where to start. Especially with my desire to keep this blog limited to a more general range of topics – not political ramblings.
Yet, I have some thoughts on how an individual could choose to react to these events and this particular time. Let’s see what comes out of my fingers!
I am currently teaching Wilderness Survival to our scout troop. There are important lessons they must know before we can take them on our High Ventures. They are “High Ventures” because they involve much more personal risk than typical weekend campouts and, honestly, more risk than most troops take on their trips. So, we expect our guys to be able to survive the unexpected and make the return trip home. Our troop has never lost a scout but my very first High Adventure with the troop certainly had moments where this could have easily happened – but that’s a whole other post! Preparation and survival takes training, practice and their ability to keep a cool head. The watch word we use to help drum this into their heads is S.T.O.P!
From the website: http://www.equipped.com/kidprimr.htm
"S" is for Stop. Take a deep breath, sit down if possible, calm yourself and recognize that whatever has happened to get you here is past and cannot be undone. You are now in a survival situation and that means . . .
"T" is for Think. Your most important asset is your brain. Use it! Don't Panic! Move with deliberate care. Think first, so you have no regrets later. Take no action, even a foot step, until you have thought it through. Unrecoverable mistakes and injuries, potentially serious in a survival situation, occur when we act before we engage our brain. Then . . .
"O" is for Observe. Take a look around you. Assess your situation and options. Consider the terrain, weather and resources. Take stock of your supplies, equipment, surroundings, your personal capabilities and, if there are any, the abilities of your fellow survivors.
"P" is for Plan. Prioritize your immediate needs and develop a plan to systematically deal with the emergency and contingencies while conserving your energy. Then, follow your plan. Adjust your plan only as necessary to deal with changing circumstances.
The beginning of every training session begins with the question: “What is the first thing you do when you have an emergency?” S.T.O.P.
My second question is: “Who’s responsibility is it to save you?” Yours!! You are responsible for your personal survival.
If our scout can S.T.O.P. and get their head together and then realize THEY responsible for their survival, in all likelihood, they will indeed survive whatever they encounter.
Getting back to my main topic of our nation’s current fiscal situation, I think our leaders should S.T.O.P. Yet, there is just a tinge of panic in their reaction. Monies pledged to this “crisis” now tops 1.5 TRILLION dollars!!! Let me say that again – real slow – 1111……555555 TTTTRRRRIIIIILLLLIIIIIIOOOOONNNNN!! With more to come it seems – another 300 billion after the beginning of the year has been proposed with states, companies and pension plans clambering on the bandwagon saying that they to are too important to be allowed to “fail”. A tipping point of some type has, indeed, been reached and the government seems determined to slide headlong into the abyss of Socialism and an odd mix of Marxism. So where does this leave us, the American citizen? All of this is beyond the control of the individual American. There is nothing we can do, with the exception of the upcoming election, to jar our government from this path. And, honestly, given the rhetoric of the candidates the only difference is that Obama with take us to a Marxist/Socialist state with stunning swiftness while McCain will, while heading us in a generally Socialist direction, do so more slowly. Neither path is good for the long term. But, just as happens when a person rolls their canoe in a swift flowing stream must save themselves first, we need to take care of ourselves and our families first – then when our own survival is assured – turn our attention to our bigger national picture. So what can individuals do right now – today – this very evening to begin their own survival process?
As individuals we all need to S.T.O.P. and assess our own situation. Realize – no one is coming to save us! No one! Get our financial house in order. Pay down bills, mortgages, cars, credit cards. Get a second job if necessary (and yes, there are jobs everywhere if you are willing to work). Look at our situation clearly, calmly and honestly so we can truly realize what our own situation is.
Realize that we have been here before as a nation. 1929. late 70s. 1987. 1999. and now today. There are economic cycles – gravity if you will. What goes up, must come down – but can certainly go up again.
Realize that financial hardship for some means opportunity for others. Perhaps now is the time to buy that house? Heaven knows there will be some good prices out there over the next 5 years or so. Perhaps now is a good time to look for a second job, change a career, learn a skill and develop a side business that can add to your family’s bottom line. I would much rather depend on my own personal skills and abilities to provide for my family than I would to depend on someone else to provide me a job.
Prepare. Action always helps! When you shop, buy a little extra for the pantry. Basics – pasta, rice, flour, sugar, some canned goods. There are some good on-line sites with lists of basics. Build a 3-month pantry and then eat from it and rotate stock.
Get to know your neighbors. If fear and panic win out over cooler heads, friends and neighbors will need to work together in ways that were common for our parents and grandparents, but not so much for us. Have them over for dinner. Introduce your kids to them. And, in doing so, you will make new friends, broaden relationships and find that people are much more interesting that a movie, TV or computer terminal.
Be responsible. I used to have a business partner that had a mirror on the back of his office door. Before a meeting he would close his door and look at the mirror. At the bottom were the words: “You are looking at the answer!” So are we all. We are the answer to our own individual problems. This “financial crisis” came about because individuals were unwilling to be responsible for themselves. There is no “housing crisis” but there is a crisis of individual responsibility – and as individuals we should not contribute to it.
Have a plan. Or plans. What are our family goals for the next week, month, 6-months, year? What is our plan in the event of another 9/11? A continued collapse of our economy? Loss of a job? The best time to plan is before we have to respond. We can game things, look at alternatives, adjust. There is a lot of comfort when “it” hits the fan and a plan is in place. It reduces fear, panic and allows us to think clearly.
And, finally – and most importantly – enjoy the day. After all, if we are unwilling to stop and enjoy our spouse, our kids, our mother, our fathers, our grandparents, our friends – why the hell even bother.
Enjoy the day!!