You can’t turn around today without someone reminding you how bad the economy is and how devastating the most recent recession has been. Agencies pile on poor recovery statistics and experts talk about horrific long-term effects, suggesting the people born in the 2000s will be worse off than their parents.
Many young people are worried about that possibility. As the national debt climbs and the economy sputters, it’s easy to see a bleak future – a future without the American Dream.
If there were a national panic button, the country would have pushed it several times in the last three years. Fear, anguish and hopelessness define the mood of a large portion of the population.
That’s the narrative. The reality is something different.
The economy isn’t anything to celebrate right now, but when did economic downturns become permanent? A few years of hardship don’t equate to a lifetime of lost prosperity. Even if it takes 10 years to recover, it will still recover.
Somewhere amid the buzzwords and discontent, we forgot one of the great hallmarks of the 20th century. The children of the Depression grew up and became The Greatest Generation.
They spent their childhoods surviving an economic situation far worse than ours, and yet they rose from the ashes into the great era of American growth.
The only thing that will stop us from repeating history is ourselves. If we accept the destiny of failure, we will find it. But if we don’t accept it, there’s no reason we won’t discover the next boom.History is littered with economic declines followed by great recoveries. There is no reason why our generation won’t turn this “Great Recession” into the “Great Recovery.”
The capacity for growth might well be limitless in this country as new technology and new ideas continue to define our lives. There is so much potential for this generation to move forward.Yet, pessimism speaks louder than optimism today. People talk about the end of the American Dream far more now. It seems as if we’ve been written off because a previous generation maxed out our credit card.That same generation likes to tell us there’s no way to come back from a recession. But their parents did. The Great Depression was long and difficult, but it didn’t last forever. Nothing lasts forever. There is nothing so final it cannot be undone.
With smart leadership and an earnest effort, we can refine our government expenditures. We can all make better choices about our own futures so we don’t need to rely on programs like Social Security and Medicare that weigh down our prosperity.
People in this country have become overly sensitive to pain after going two generations without having to really sacrifice anything. The peak unemployment during the recent recession was just north of 10 percent. During the Depression it was 25 percent. We have given far less than our grandparents ever did.
But, the Baby Boomers can only see the world through their own eyes. They never saw a world with 10 percent unemployment, so when the number climbed high, they started writing eulogies. Don’t listen to them. They may have left us with a hard task, but it is not an impossible one. The creativity and ingenuity of the people born in the 2000s can overcome. Ours is a competitive generation and competition fuels progress.
This can be a time of great opportunity in America. Don’t be discouraged by those who paint a dark picture of despair. Each generation unfolds a new chapter in the American story, and ours can be a brilliant one if we’re willing to work for it.
We’ll have to make tough choices and take new approaches, but everything wrong today can be made right tomorrow.
We can fix our schools and rebuild our roads, encourage small business and spur development. Foster bright futures and restore faith in the American Dream. It’s a matter of taking ownership of our country.For years we’ve been told we are the future and one day we will inherit this great nation. That day has come.