Here in Northern Arkansas, we are better insulated from the financial crisis than some. In my part of the state, it is thanks to companies like Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods, and JB Hunt that bring jobs in to us. In other parts of Arkansas, the poverty level is so high that no none really notices when the rest of the country is brought closer to where they live. Wall St. is very far removed.
I have two younger brothers, one works in Branson, MO as a stage hand for one of the theaters, and the other is on his way to becoming a supervisor at Ranger Boats. Both industries are being hit hard by the "credit crunch". My youngest brother, the boat builder, is hurting as his plant today announced it will be extending its Christmas shutdown to 4 weeks instead of 2 and they are laying off 130 of their 700+ employees today. Factory workers in a right to work state don't get paid for these shut down periods. Happy Holidays indeed. I mention this to ask that you all keep them in your prayers.
Another thing scares me about this crisis. As usual, when things start going bad, people begin to look for someone to blame. They also start to become more religious as faith becomes something certain to cling to in uncertain times. How long before those in power in the fundangelical movement begin moving on these fears? We've heard them try to do this with 9/11/01, but our country was in good enough shape at the time that they were scoffed and scorned. While it was a tragedy of super proportions, it was still isolated enough that we could recognize the tactic.
But now, with fears running high not just about physical security, but also economic security, people may stop thinking rationally. The cries of "See, I told you this would happen if we let [insert hated group] have [insert recently won right]! God is angry with America!" will start to be heard and people will start to believe it. Don't believe me? Look at Germany in the 1930's. With their economy decimated after WWI restrictions, they began to look to a charismatic leader who promised to bring Germany back into God's favor at the Supreme Nation. How Adolf and company pulled off their coup-de-ta was to feed into their country's feelings of nationalism and fear.
My hope is that with our country's election of President-elect Obama that we will not head in this direction. But it's going to take more than a charismatic leader to keep the momentum going. All of us have to continue to work toward change, toward social justice, toward equality for all of God's children, using the same enthusiasm that got Mr. Obama elected in the first place.
We have our marching orders. Let's get to it!