Optimism: A Tough Job on Labor Day

September 3, 2011 — Leave a comment

Here we are again . . . Labor Day weekend in the US. Unfortunately for American workers, the news is really no better than this time last year. In fact, it’s even worse.

While the mainstream media toggles between fostering hope and invoking gloom, the number of individuals and families impacted by this crippled economy continues to climb. Of course, the 9.1% unemployment rate is disheartening . . . but when you factor in those who are long-term unemployed (they’re not actually counted in the numbers from the Labor Department, you know) and the under-employed, the number is staggering indeed. In recent months I have noticed an increase in the average age of the servers who wait on me in restaurants and the employees who work in retail stores. So many people are now doing work for which they are grossly over-qualified because they simply cannot find a more lucrative employment option.

While the partisans in Washington and the talking heads on cable TV duke it out about where to place blame for the current situation, the cause, I believe, is more foundational than systemic. Back in 2008 when the stock market tanked and the era of the bail-outs was born, there was a lot of talk about certain corporations being ‘too big to fail.’ The reality is that nothing in this world is too big to fail.

The major problem with the US economy lies not with the chronically, hopelessly inept politicians but with the pride of our citizens. In times of relative peace and prosperity, Americans began to believe they were exceptional — by definition, meaning the exception to most rules of conventional wisdom. It seems to me that many confused the concepts of exception and exemption. Since the 80’s and 90’s were characterized by economic growth and upward mobility, Americans began to believe they were exempt from the kind of reason, morality, and common sense that were at the very foundation of our nation’s vibrancy.

Now, years later, we have begun to realize that the principle of planting and harvesting is true for us too: You reap what you sow.

Signs of the times are all around us. From the empty storefronts to the foreclosed homes to the jam-packed job fairs, America has been radically transformed into a nation in desperate need. And I’m not just talking about need of jobs either. I’m speaking of the need for spiritual renewal. Of course, in a country where 700 Christians can’t prevent a mosque from being built at Ground Zero — but one atheist can keep a cross from being displayed on a soldier’s tombstone — we are a perfect picture of a nation run amuck. Through moral relativism, religious plurality, and self-determinism, America has become a spiritually anemic society.

Please don’t mishear me. I’m not trying to say that this is the end of America as we know it; there are plenty of other people out there delivering that sobering prediction. Perhaps our greatest days are ahead of us . . . but not unless we recognize and repair the colossal cracks in our foundation. And such hope for a brighter future is entirely dependent upon returning to God.

This Labor Day, if you are blessed enough to have a job, thank God for it. If you are one of the millions of Americans who is unemployed or under-employed, know that God is real, and He cares for you. In times like these we learn painfully difficult but necessary lessons. My prayer is that the challenges of this present time will not defeat us but humble us — and ultimately make us stronger.

Don’t ever believe that America is too big to fail. We must remain hopeful, vigilant, and faithful to the One from whom all blessings flow. In the words of John Adams, Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.

As you celebrate a holiday weekend with family and friends, let’s not forget those who labor for our freedom. Our military men and women and their families deserve our prayers, our respect, and our gratitude.

(Click here for a previous post that offers tips for helping those who are unemployed.)

What do you think about our country’s current situation? What will it take for our nation to return to God?

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