As we approach the season of Thanksgiving and Christmas, people
are already thinking about gift-giving and what they can afford during these
lean economic times. Many are experiencing economic hardships because of job
loss, threat of bankruptcy, health care costs and more. At the same time people
are being encouraged by some policy makers to spend more as a way of boosting
the economy. Many feel a need to save more to meet future needs and to take a
close look at what they are spending on gifts for their children and other ways,
anticipating that the economic slow-down may linger for a long time to come.
They are also looking at how their money is spent. "Will it bring happiness to
the family, or could something less expensive also bring them much pleasure and
joy? Would sharing some of their limited resources with those who have very
little also bring joy as well as hope to the recipients and to the givers?
Polls say that 89% of people are spending less or the same as
last year on gift-giving. Many are feeling it is time to evaluate how they spend
their money and decide to spend more responsibly. This will call for a
discussion with their family members to help them understand the reason for the
change. It will help the entire family to re-evaluate their spending habits and
make needed changes.
People can also look at the items they are purchasing. Are they
made in America? Can they use some fair trade items that also help the people in
poor areas who made them and do not exploit the workers who made the items?
What are other ways that the economy can be bolstered in these
languishing economic times?
We can examine our lifestyles and see what we need to
change to live simply. This will help people have less debt and more
opportunities to share with those most in need.
Examine our beliefs: Is bigger always better? Does more
bring you happiness and security? What are the ingredients of a happy
life? For healthy living, we need to address the mind, body, spirit
connection and respond accordingly.
Do material goods bring happiness? Many are discovering
that they don’t need as many things to make them happy.
Are there substitutes for expensive vacations? What are
How would we define a healthy economy?
Can we challenge our legislators to spend less money on
wars that do not bring solutions to problems but only create more
violence? We also need to challenge political leaders to support small
companies that can create jobs and offer fewer tax breaks to those who
have no need of them. Urge legislators not to balance the national or
state budgets on the backs of those who can least afford it.
Perhaps churches and faith communities could gather people
together to discuss these issues and help them to find ways to come up with
some answers and help each other through challenging economic times.
Recently Archbishop Dolan, head of the US Bishops Conference urged people to
take some direct action on what he called "the poverty scandal" and bring
hope to people in need. No effort is too small to make a difference.