Grace in a Bad Economy
It has been an interesting few years where I live. The current economic crisis was preceded by a more-local property tax crisis, so there has been quite an extended period of stress. Some folks managed to ride it out with little change; some pulled up stakes and downsized drastically (among them me and my husband); some remained in denial and/or have gone off the deep end.
In good times, people can find work, stores have customers, communities can keep up their standards, and a certain amount of humane civility is the norm. In difficult times hard decisions are made–to foreclose, to sell at a loss, to file bankruptcy, or to just walk away. Many have made such decisions even after eliminating every possible unnecessary expenditure, particularly those who have lost their income and health.
There are other kinds of hard-times behavior, though, which are sociopathic, exploiting the economic needs of others to save one’s own skin. Obvious ones are cuts in employee pay or beneifits when the boss knows they probably couldn’t find another job if they wanted. Sneakier tactics include entering into partnerships or mutually-beneficial arrangements, then pulling out shortly after so that the remaining partner is responsible for your old liabilities, such as a lease. Even sadder is when one such action creates a chain of such reactions, each person in the link baiting another link as they try to extricate themselves from responsibilities they cannot handle. Other people, even friends, become expendable. Anger, bitterness, and distrust grows, creating a still harsher environment for doing business.
One of the best things about stepping back from brick-and-mortar type work and moving to online work is the ability to avoid being part of a local economy’s small-minded dramas. It is a way of being part of a global economy as opposed to being trapped by a local one. In difficult times grace and dignity and honesty and authenticity suddenly become a kind of currency, “buying” peace of mind, health, trust, and release from fear. I think that is why so many of us have chosen to take control of our lifestyles, our possessions, our way of working. We can stay real while the world goes spinning madly on.
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