“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first inaugural address (3/4/33)
If there is one thing Americas know how to do — and we do it well — is fear monger. Whether it is the media or our government, even we as individuals, all sell fear like it’s going out of style.
The government, specifically our elected officials, seems to enjoy spreading the word about impending disasters — preaching fear is a control mechanism. In the last decade, thanks to our politicians and public officials, we feared the technological fallout that was to occur with Y2K; the terrorist threat level has loomed on imminent since the nightmare of 9/11; and the stock market collapse in 2008 over-sensationalized an economic meltdown.
The media is no better. It runs with headlines that send shivers down the readers’ spines. The news is then spread with lightning speed to out-of-the-loop family members, friends and colleagues; and before you know it, America and its ordinary people are on a sinking ship with no way to be saved. Truth be told, our ship has endured some major damage in the past, but it’s not as if we are on the Titanic.
On Monday, news spread like wildfire about the Dow Jones Industrial Average taking a sharp dive by 600 points after one rating agency lowered the U.S. credit rating. Images of stock brokers with their hands covering their faces in displays of sheer sadness and dismay spread across the country. News sites and bloggers posted stories with rapid speed about a downfall in our country’s already slow economic recovery. Surely, this had to be bad for all of us. But then, of course, Tuesday happened. The Dow Jones was up 439 points and the overall outlook was approaching positive. As local economist Bill Watkins tells the Reporter this week (see News on page 6), “I am not sure why the rating changed and had the impact it has. Everything is the same, there isn’t real news there.”
As our grandparents remember, recovering from an economic downfall is no easy task. It took a decade and a world war to recover from the stock market crash of 1929. While we may not be getting into a world war any time soon, we must realize that this is going to take time and we must let some time elapse before we start to panic. We, for the most part, are an educated country and have the ability to learn a lot from the past. There is a bigger picture here that we are losing sight of: we are all in this together. Let’s stop the fear mongering and get focused on making this country great, once again.