Whenever I find myself getting down about our nation’s political and economic woes, I think of a conversation I had with my boss, back in the early 2000’s. The idea he shared with me that crisp, spring day still resonates with me, despite the passage of almost two decades. For years, I found comfort in it, replaying its melody like a piece of smooth jazz, but now it strike me like a death knell. The stakes of our survival, propped against the backdrop of our polarized citizenry, have grown too high.
I’ve always resisted talking politics at work, as my positions tend to lie on the other side of the fence of those in control of my livelihood. My boss did not subscribe to this point of view, but fortunately his personality leaned toward promoting thought and discussion as opposed to stirring the pot.
There was a lot for us to talk about in the first few years following the turn of the century. We’d barely caught our breath from the Y2K threat, only to find ourselves floundering in the wreckage of the Bush v. Gore Florida recount debacle and in a sudden scramble to manage the fallout of the 9/11 attack. The cards setting the stage for the 2008 recession were also still being dealt.
That morning, I stopped by my his office to update him on the one-day business trip I’d made the day before, involving airplane travel. Given the fodder of material at our fingertips, he launched into what I considered to be a relatively benign conversation topic: the extreme airport security measures being implemented in response to both 9/11 and the recent shoe bomber scare.
He poured out his frustration with the new shoe removal policy, and then much to my confusion, he did an about face and laughed his concerns away. I must have given him an odd look, because he gestured for me to have a seat, so he could explain. A seasoned man at the twilight of his career, he never passed up an opportunity to mentor.
“Don’t ever let yourself get too down about the policies and practices our government implements. What I do, is think about the state of the nation as if it were a moving pendulum. The ideal spot would be for it to hang over the center, but it never does. Things always swing back and forth, from one extreme to another. Just when it seems like the tide has gone too far in one direction, eventually it turns and shifts back…