Friday, November 14, 2008

Hope beyond Hopelessness

--This blog was originally written for an industry audience, so kindly disregard strange references. --

As I sit here drinking coffee and pondering the state of the great USA, my mind turns to contemplate where I will be by the summer of 2009. Let's be honest, it's a brutal market out there with over 6% of the country looking for work, national giga-corporations sinking without even a flare to fire for help, and the latest, the "3 Big Ones" GM, Ford and Daimler-Chrysler begging for a bailout. I work in construction and construction in the Treasure Valley has taken a nose-dive, racing headlong toward destruction. Here in Idaho we have the 15th highest forclosure rate in the nation, which means market saturation of homes. For my homebuilder counterparts I feel your pain. They say that commercial construction is still strong here, though I have to say that I can't see it.

What I can see is a few years of hard work, careful management, and hope. And that is the key, when it comes down to it for most of us, hope is the binding factor. Hope is what drives the economy. Hope is what gives confidence to the American consumer and hope is what we must hold on to when all is lost. Earlier this month we held an election in which the people of America spoke, raised men to office and made critical decisions. In a way, America said as a collective whole, "This group of men holds the answer to the question of hope." Let's hope that we did the right thing. Let's hope that the American will once again gain the confidence that they need through the hope they have elected.

Politics aside though, I think that there are bigger and greater things to be tackled. I got out of bed this morning and made my way to my office, got my coffee and proceeded to take care of the business of the day. As I did, a funny thing happened, the sun rose. You know, I remember the sun rising yesterday and the day before and before that, the sun rose. Makes me wonder what will happen tomorrow. As I think about this, it occurs to me, "Zach, why do you think it is so odd, that if you should get up every day, the sun wouldn't?" Will Obama get out of bed tomorrow? Probably. Will the sun rise because he tells it to? Absolutely not. The sun will rise, but at no humans urging. The sun will rise, because the sun's job is to do just that. Now back to hope. Where is it? In whom is it placed? In what?

This is an important question in the economy at large today. We have called the American dollar the "Almighty Dollar," raised it up to diestic status and put our hope in it. But what happens when it crashes as it is doing now. We all sit and watch and hope that with enough quantity of Dollars, we can pull through. Let me ask you though, does the sun rise because of the dollar?

With the looming economic crisis I have an opportunity for a greater choice. I have the opportunity to hope in something far greater than Dollars, than politicians, than giga-corporations, I have the opportunity to live on hope in the transcendental, that which is beyond all. I see the sun rise in the morning and am reminded, there is something beyond: a hope beyond hope, beyond hoplessness. The question is whether I will take that hope, or the hope that one more bailout will fix everything, one more G-20 meeting will solve the worlds problems.

What would a world look like where hope-beyond-hope reigned free? I can't answer that question, I won't even speculate. What I can say for myself is that it makes building another building a whole lot less significant. It reminds me just how shallow my hope is; I am humbled.

"When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider:
God has made the one
as well as the other." -Ecclesiastes 7:14

My wife told me the other day, "You know, when you look at the world and try to find the value in every circumstance, you really can't have a bad day." So true, if I try to learn from these troublesome times we are in, even in them I can have good days, simply for rejoicing in what I am learning from them. Lessons like, "Be a wise steward of what you have," and "Give portions to seven, yes to eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land." Good reminders that taking care of others, giving to them serves only to lay up treasure for the day of famine.

Could I lose everything in this troublesome time? Well that depends on what is mine. If what has been given to me is not mine to have, but to care for for a time, then I have nothing to lose...ever.

Can I take my own medicine? Can I move a position and see the beauty in the ashes? Or will I instead allow myself to sink deeper into the muck of self-pity? I fear for myself that it may be the latter. I have hope though. I have hope. Until next time, keep watching the sunrise!