Thanks to HuffPo Business for linking to this post, originally published on 5 January 2011. [Please note the original link was severed when this blog recently moved to a new platform]. I continue to believe that the current economic and financial crisis is best described and understood as “The Great Reckoning.”
Choice of words can have consequences. The associations they conjure up reflect an understanding of the world; indeed they can alter understandings.
The names that stick for economic and financial phenomena occasion all manner of responses and decisions by individuals, enterprises and governments.
An apt word can add great value. An inapt word can have untoward effects if it misdiagnoses the issues at hand.
“Great Recession” suggests that our circumstances are comprehended as a recession in the technical sense–consecutive quarters of negative economic growth.
An alternative name–and an alternative understanding–of our situation would be: “Great Reckoning.”
Reckoning suggests an accounting, a payment for past judgments and actions, perhaps tinged with a moral element, making amends, redirecting.
Reckoning connotes we may be in the midst of something deeper than a recession, at least more far-reaching than those of recent decades.
Are our current circumstances best understood as a financial and economic problem, responded to with traditional, conventional fiscal and monetary approaches?
Or are our current circumstances based on fundamental issues, widely-shared cultural issues? Are we in the midst of a series of reckonings for actions and attitudes that suffused our entire way of life, including business, finance, government, individuals and families?
The overconsumption of recent decades by governments and citizens, the insufficiency of public and private savings, the political maneuvering for advantage by public employees unions, corporations, financial houses and organized interest groups–together these may indicate that our challenges are deep-seated, even profound.
If so, what is required to resolve it may be quite different from what we’re used to, from what has generally been mooted in public discussions.
We sense we are at an inflection point, a time of decision: cutting off one path, taking another.
Do the ultimate issues relate to our national character? Might they even approach the spiritual?
It’s becoming evident the issues now upon us may be too important to leave to the politicians. In any event, politics and politicians tend to reflect us as we are and have been, rather than as we can be.
The good news: in the 21st century, with Information Age tools, every one of us is empowered to make a difference, combining with others in a multiplicity of networked enterprises.
How can you best serve?
The Great Reckoning