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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Shopping for Truth: An ode to hope hiding under murky waters

Published: January 16, 2009
Section: Opinions

the_hoot_1-16-09final_page_05_image_0001Our economy is in shambles and apparently we can’t trust people we thought were our friends. And we can’t forget that it’s going get a lot worse before it gets any better. Anyone feeling any better now?

Despite the gloomy intro to this column, this is not a doom and gloom article decrying our economy and our misery. We’ve had enough of that. Instead, it’s an ode to the hope that’s hiding underneath the murky waters we’re swimming in right now.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you must know about the state our economy is in.

And if you’re a member of the Brandeis community, you’ve surely heard about the Bernard Madoff financial scandal. So if we’re really in a recession and the people that were supposed to be safe guarders of money are really schemers, then where is the hope?

Well, like all difficulties, there indeed lies a silver lining in our current state. And ever the eternal optimist, I believe just that. Maybe this is a situation to learn from our mistakes and pinpoint what’s really important instead of continuing to believe in superficialities.

Take spending, for example. I’m no economist, so I won’t pretend to evaluate our economic situation or the mistakes that led us to our current problems.

But it appears to me that maybe in addition to crying about what fiscal mistakes our government has made, we should also take this as a lesson we can apply to ourselves.

Now that we all need to watch our spending more closely, maybe we should start to think before we spend. It seems like such a simple concept: don’t spend what you don’t have. Easier said than done, though, when there are credit cards that seem to promise an endless supply of magical money.

By the name of this column you’ve probably deduced that this girl loves to shop and in doing so you’d be right.

But this girl also understands that credit cards aren’t like fairy dust. And like our parents told us when we were younger, “money doesn’t grow on trees” and that’s a cliché we’d all do well to heed.

College students in particular are vulnerable to racking up considerable credit card debt purely because of the many applications that flood our mailboxes. So maybe this is the time to evaluate all of our spending habits and not only the government’s.

And what about trust? Certainly those close to Madoff trusted him with their money until they found out that the man they’d trusted had fooled them. From this we should take caution. Sadly not everyone is as they seem and we often have to learn this the hard way.

But that doesn’t mean that we need to become cynical. It just means we learn to be realistic and appreciate that much more the friendships and business partnerships that are true and solid, like family.

In times of hardship, we all rely on our families; this time is nothing different. Maybe in this difficult time we’ll really learn to appreciate our families and stop the rush rush rush that our society has become.

And the last lesson we should all learn from our current state is hope. Hope that things will get better.

Hope that we will come out of this stronger and more equipped to ride the next storm.

No one would volunteer to go through a tough economic time if they had a choice, but attitude is everything and before panicking, simply recognize the opportunity before us. Like Frederick Douglass once said, “If there is no struggle there is no progress.”