A Woman's Perspective On The Times We Live In


July 20, 2012

What Will Our Future Hold?

     My days are occupied differently than they were just a few short years ago.  Today I spend more time educating myself and staying on top of issues that will affect my little piece of this earth.  That means figuring out exactly what the LIBOR scandal means, keeping track of the latest antics of the U.N., and trying to gauge how Russia's interaction with China and Iran will ultimately impact us.  I don't want you to think that, for one minute, I have it all figured out.  I don't.  But I no longer want to rely on a 2-minute "nightly news" clip to sum up world events.  And I definitely know I can't trust the talking heads to be straight with us on what our own Government is doing behind our backs.  That means I have to do my own homework, and it calls for seeking out multiple sources in order to arrive at the truth.
     And I have to tell you that there are days it is downright discouraging.  There seems to be no "good" news on the horizon.  From "Jobless Claims Surge" to "Fukashima Radiation Now Detected in U.S. Food Supply" to "U.S. Navy Increases Presence in Strait of Hormuz" -- none of it is conducive to a positive attitude.  So I stay busy.  I try to keep my mind and my body occupied with things that provide some sense of accomplishment; things that are productive and beneficial.  Like learning how to pressure can the harvest from my garden; or begin the raising of chickens; or taking the steps to become more proficient in defending myself.
    Learning new skills and becoming more informed gives me a certain level of confidence and belief that we are temporarily secure, but the difficult questions are never far from my mind.  What will the future look like?  And how do I plan for it?  It has become obvious that we can take nothing for granted.  Our nation's healthcare system is in a state of turmoil.  Will Obamacare be upheld in its entirety, or will it be repealed?  And how will that affect the quality of care we receive and how we receive it?  With many in the medical ranks claiming they will leave the profession if the Affordable Health Care Act is maintained, what is that going to look like?
     And we've all heard that dreaded word "Taxmageddon".  Due to the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts, which will cost the American taxpayers $310 billion in tax increases next year,  Congress is facing a year-end "fiscal cliff".  And will we find ourselves careening over that cliff, as well?  As small business owners, I can tell you that PLW and I will be among the millions of casualties of our government's failed fiscal policy.  So how do you plan for that?  We have reduced our debt, bought only things that will help us endure a sustained economic downturn, and tried to position ourselves to ride out the storm.  But if our income has fallen, and our taxes are expected to sharply rise, there's no way to make that equation balance.
     And what about those families who have children to send to college?  Or retirees who are trying to figure out what the future looks like for them?  The Washington Post reported a statement by the Federal Reserve that the net worth of American families fell by nearly 40% from 2007 to 2010.  They further claimed that this recession has wiped out nearly two decades of Americans' wealth!  That 40% represents the nest eggs for retiring Seniors, or college educations for a whole generation of kids; never mind the rest of us just trying to keep our heads above water!
     Americans are doing what they can ..... reducing credit card debt and living below their means for the first time in decades.  But with less income, the loss of value in our homes, and rising prices on everything from a jar of peanut butter, to the gas we put in our cars, our standard of living is taking a hit.  And no one knows where it will stop.
     The economists paint a gloomy picture.  They predict that it is only a matter of time, before this global economic house of cards comes tumbling down.  So how do we respond to that?  What should be our mindset?
     I find myself, more and more, picturing myself living my grandmother's life.  It was considerably harder and more rigorous than what we've come to feel we deserve.  We modern Americans often compare our affluent lives with their simpler existences, and think we have it so much better.  But do we?  Is it better to feel cheated and depressed because we're losing all the material things that this Society tells us we need to be happy ..... or would we be more content to expect less and be grateful for every good thing that God provides?
     I'm not sure my grandmother ever mapped out her future.  I'm not sure she looked beyond the next growing season or expected she would ever stop working.  She didn't have a maid, and if she sat still for longer than an hour, she felt lazy.  There was always "work" to do:  clothes to wash by hand, and hang out on the line; three meals a day to cook, and food to store for the winter; church activities to be involved in and the less fortunate to visit.  The "Future" didn't necessarily mean you would have more; "more" wasn't something you expected or felt was your due, but if it happened, you were mighty grateful.
     Now, I know that we are supposed to have "progressed" beyond this kind of menial lifestyle.  Our standards of living have excelled far beyond what our grandparents envisioned.  But I think we need to realize that we are faced with a new kind of "future", and those days of relaxing and enjoying the fruit of our labor just might be gone.  Everyone is going to have to tighten their belt and be satisfied with less.  Instead of expecting more and taking for granted that it will be there, we need to be grateful for what we receive; no matter the portion.  So, how do we plan for the future?  Concentrate on making your life meaningful, simpler, and less complicated.  Save as much as you can, and learn to live less extravagantly.  The way I look at it is this:  If whatever hardships are coming makes me appreciate people more, and things less, then perhaps I will gain much more than I've lost.  And that's a future that has true value.

Job 17:11-12         "My days have passed, my plans are shattered.  Yet the desires of my heart turn night into day; in the face of the darkness light is near."

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