Now I am going to talk about one of our worst fears – economic downfalls or even economic disaster…..
On a sombre note, I wonder how you would feel if tomorrow morning your boss called you and said that they have no choice but to make you redundant because the company is struggling so much with the economic downfall the pandemic has brought on? It might be a disturbing thought. Many many people have had to hear exactly that during the past twelve months. It is very sobering.
But imagine it got worse. Imagine you lost your home. Now you might have thoughts running through your mind about how you would cope. Perhaps you have a disaster fund already set aside. Maybe there are family or friends who you could turn to for accommodation or financial help.
But imagine things were so bad that the economic crisis literally touched everyone. You go to the grocery store and due to hyperinflation there are hardly any products on the shelves and just one loaf of bread costs a month’s wage – or more! That might sound extreme, but it has happened in some lands.
It’s pointless being anxious about things that have not happened yet. But are there any practical measures we can take to be prepared for a financial crisis and to reduce our anxiety levels. A crisis often develops due to situations beyond your control. But let’s think about what you can do to cope with an economic crisis.
In any kind of crisis – DON’T PANIC! Many other people have been through economic hardship on a scale we have never known it and have got through it. Do not let financial anxiety tip you over into despair.
Stop and ask this: WHAT DO YOU NEED TO STAY ALIVE TODAY? Actually, very very little. Some water, food and some shelter. Life is the most precious gift you possess.
We live on a planet where everyday around a billion people have just what they need to stay alive. Many of those people have never seen the things we may take for granted – a flushing toilet, a washing machine, a refrigerator, an electric shower.
Yet they are alive, they work to tend their flocks, cultivate their crops, sell their wares or earn a meagre wage in order to keep their family alive. They could teach us so much about how precious life is, how important relationships are, and how to be joyful even in difficult and often chronically corrupt and unjust circumstances.
I know that during the past year there are people who are turning to food banks for the first time in their lives. I have friends who have felt they had no choice but to move away from a home and an area they love to a less expensive area. During the current pandemic, many people have already suffered adverse financial conditions due to the efforts to protect the most precious gift humans have – LIFE.
We can recover. An economic crisis, or any other trial or crisis for that matter, has a limited period. Something we also are wise to remember is that for thousands of years mankind has survived without grocery stores, without refrigerators and without power showers!
I sometimes wonder whether we are a little overly pampered so that we Westerners panic at the thought of losing luxuries like toilet paper – yes sorry to break it to you but even toilet paper is a modern luxury!
For a long time we have been living within an economic system which is saturated by commercialism – MORE MORE MORE – is their main aim. Bigger, better, newer, faster. They will never stop their quest to sell you another luxury. Consumerism that takes too much from the planet, presses upon us the desire for things we do not need, raises the basic costs of living, throws away a huge amount of waste products – it is not healthy, for people, for planet or for a sustainable economy.
There are also some darkly sinister aspects of this international economic system – child labour, modern slavery (not to mention that the economy today is built on unjust profiteering by domination other people during the slave trade), dehumanising working conditions, workplace bullying, cutting corners for expediency resulting in unsafe building practices, excessive consumption of resources some of which contribute to increasing carbon levels and climate change….the list could go on and on. For a long time governments, industries, retailers have effectively “GAMBLED” and have thought they were getting away with it.
How long can they go on like that? Economic disasters, climate disasters, pandemics, famines – they are all symptoms of a seriously crooked set up. Excessive travel, excessive consumption, excessive destruction of natural habitats such as forests for farming, abuse of people and animals who are “kept” or accommodated in poor conditions and unsafe buildings. Like never before we need change. The economic system is so very much like the Titanic! But never ever despair! LIFE is so much more than this economic system. We can survive economic hardship. We may be confronted in a very direct way with the realization of what our real needs are. For a limited amount of time, we may be thinking about what we need to stay alive today. But we will survive.
Mankind has survived and thrived without the things we consider basic commodities. If we are alive – we can rebuild. We can grow new crops. We can start again. We can go from just what we need to stay alive to having extras, luxuries even. But what an opportunity to learn that we do not need to consume this planet’s resources excessively to stay alive. We could live a life that is much more in harmony with our incredibly precious planet. We live on the best real estate in the galaxy, in the known universe. We have an abundance.
If you are in the queue at a food bank it may not feel that way. But economic hardship due to an economic system that is built on a crumbling foundation is something that will not last forever.
So for all the practical advice we have discussed on debt, budgeting, and other matters – it is vital that we keep things in perspective. Money is a tool. Many have barely enough to keep themselves and their family alive for from day to day. Many others live in lands where we have luxuries considered as basic commodities – but the cost of living in those lands mean that many have very little money left after they have covered their costs of accommodation, utilities, transport and food.
Some have amassed more and more money and may feel they are divinely blessed. That is not true. Being prosperous in a corrupt system is not a sign of virtue! Some give a token fraction of their income to charities, but spend a lot of money on luxuries – bigger and better houses, cars, boats, private jets, excessive travel….and now they even use their excess to try to win the race to Mars. It makes you sick doesn’t it. They are welcome to Mars as far as I am concerned! Bon voyage suckers!
How long will these economic imbalances and extremes go on for? How long will governments and industries burn through resources at an excessive and absurd rate? The truth is….all of us may have to get more real when it comes to controlling our spending, careful budgeting, being content with what we have. It might sound pessimistic. We are all pretty fed up after the past year already!
But let me ask you this – how many times during the past year where you asked to pay the bill for the last few sunsets you saw? How many times were you asked to pay for the flowers or the trees or the birdsong, or the starry skies? How many of you have taken a walk during the past year and felt your spirits lifted by something in nature? Something you were not asked to pay for but it brought an inner glow to you? Which do you appreciate more? The chance to visit your loved ones again and have a cup of tea and a biscuit with them? Or the chance to go on a luxury cruise? What matters most to you now?
Many of us have learnt so much during the past twelve months about what really MATTERS. So yes, having some money matters. But never forget, even during an economic crisis that the cost of LIFE is worth more than any human could ever pay for. So many know the reality of that statement. Even if you lose your job, your business, your home – your LIFE is the most precious possession you have. You can recover economic losses. It might be hard for a while. But you can rebuild.
How can you be prepared for an economic downfall? There are some practical suggestions that are prudent. I have often heard it said that it is a good idea to set aside a savings account with three months of living expenses. That is a practical suggestion that many help to reduce anxiety. But disasters don’t normally fit around our schedule or savings account!
Another practical suggestion is to prepare a grab bag – in case of a natural disaster or emergency. Grab bags should have some bottled water, some non-perishable food, photocopies of legal documents (passport, birth certificate etc) and if you take regular medication, keep a few days supply in your grab bag. That is a basic grab bag. Some might pack for all sorts of possibilities – a first aid kit, a torch, some cash, a windup radio, a list of useful contact details, I have a friend who told me he has two rolls of toilet paper in his grab bag!!! If I were you I would avoid packing a grab bag as heavy as another person! Savings and grab bags are just small practical suggestions to allay anxiety – they are not 100% salvation in an emergency situation.
Prepare now for the fact that we do not know what tomorrow will bring. Make life count by strengthening relationships, being tapped in with what brings true joy, spending time in nature, and being confident that even if the economic system crumbled, the earth would still be here. We could rebuild, we could plant new crops and we would survive. It is love that makes people thrive. Hope sustains people in times of desperation. Focus on what you need to stay alive that day.
We live on the most abundant planet in the known universe. This planet produces more than enough to feed every person on the planet. While some of us are making a fuss about when we can plan our next vacation, others are worried about losing their home. There are others who live in a dwelling without any running water or electricity, that’s normal to them. They might worry about gathering enough food to provide for each member of the family or how far they have to walk to gather clean water. Perspective can make a difference to how we deal with economic hardship.
Appreciate LIFE – the most precious gift we possess. Invest time in relationships and experiencing the wonders of nature. Be practical when it comes to managing your finances. Budget wisely so that you can cover the cost of your basic needs, and then allot any remaining income to other wants and to shrewd savings. Avoid debt. Never gamble. Just never!
I know I have been talking about some serious subjects. But I don’t think our younger generation have prepared and trained for the possibility of economic downfall. I know it is frightening to contemplate, but remember – trials are temporary. Ask the older generation and you may find they may have much practical advice and tips on controlling anxiety. We need a lot less than we think to stay alive.
The change we really need is a large scale one. We need a system not motivated by greed, but one moved by love. People assign that concept to a utopian fantasy, but ignoring the abuses to people, planet and animals, the unjust economic extremes and the damage that is being done due to excessive consumption mean that sooner than we think, we may all have to rebuild. What kind of world do you want to live in? Invest now in what really matters – people and planet (and it’s creatures).