Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Delicate Balance of Optimism

I've been watching various people over this past week talk about our current economic crisis. (Honestly, I don't think you can avoid it if you watch the news.) On the one hand I heard a few people talking about how we've lived off false optimism for too long. If there was one thing President Bush was good at it, was remaining confident, or at least projecting confidence, throughout whatever we faced. (Might we call that a theology of glory in the church?) At the same time that became a problem because it led many to deny reality. Consequently we started living beyond our means. I've heard that we were living, on average, at 107% of our income. No budget can sustain that for any length of time.

Now, more recently, I've heard that big flaw from President Obama is that he hasn't projected enough optimism. His staff is arguing that he is trying be realistic (Might we call that a theology of the cross in the church?) in the face of uniquely difficult times. Yet, it seems more than anything the stock market NEEDS an injection of positivity and hope that we will recover from this rough patch.

I honestly don't know what the solution is, but it does seem clear that there is a fine line between healthy optimism and overconfidence. I have faith that our leadership can walk that line... especially if folks take a head to Gov. Schwartzenager's words on "This Week with George Stephanopolous" where he talked about there being a time to toe the party a line and a time to step out from that for the good of the people you're serving.

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