Press-Republican

Columns

July 8, 2012

Lessons can be earned from hard economic times

I am sitting at a dock near Cumberland Bay, watching the sailing ships roll away, and I can’t help but think just how lucky we are to live in a place as beautiful and peaceful as Plattsburgh. Each of us has our challenges and hardships, but many people in the world would trade their troubles for ours in a heartbeat.

I spoke with a woman this week whose fiance has found our community challenging. Times are hard everywhere, I know. I spend most Saturday afternoons sitting at a wine shop that serves as a contemporary version of the traditional barber shop. There, people sip wine and sometimes discuss what the world is coming to. I am sure some feel as blessed as I do, and others hopeless as they ponder what brought us to this point. There is something universal, though. All of us are concerned.

Many of our most troubling concerns often won’t affect us in our lifetime. Issues of pensions, education, the antipathy of affluence, or the perplexing paralysis of politics are themes that are rehashed over kitchen and dining-room tables everywhere. We discuss these issues even though it’s our children who will pay the highest price for our generation’s follies. And, many of these issues we feel we can do little about.

Why do we put so much emotional and intellectual energy into things we cannot change?

Is it because we cannot grasp easily the difference between what we can change and what we cannot?

I don’t think so.

I think these universal conversations are less about changing the world and more about hope that the future can offer a world at least as good as what was left to us. Yes, we are lamenting how our institutions are failing us. But, I don’t think we enjoy complaining or being complacent.

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