• Thomas A. Wilson

The Next Great Recession

Things were a-changing in 1964. Camelot evaporated with the pull of a trigger in late ’63. Simmering social issues soon reached full boil, forever changing the fabric of American culture.

So, too, back in 1954 when we thought the commies were going to take over the world. President Eisenhower delivered his “domino theory” speech—setting the stage for 58,220 future American deaths in Vietnam.

The year 1944 offered a different threat. War raged around the globe. Hitler’s Final Solution churned out atrocities with diabolical efficiency.

In 1934, the country was stumbling through The Great Depression and The Dust Bowl. Bonnie and Clyde met their doom on a desolate road in Louisiana, as did John Dillinger outside Chicago’s Biograph Theater.

The world was no less volatile in the decades following our 1964 benchmark. In ’74, America was stunned and humiliated by economic recession, the Watergate scandal, and the Arab oil embargo.

George Orwell’s dystopian vision didn’t materialize in 1984, but Dr. Ruth talked about sex, and Miss America resigned (for the first time in pageant history) amid a nude photo scandal. Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two men sworn to protect her.

In 1994, Lorena Bobbitt was found not guilty by reason of insanity. NATO took military action in Eastern Europe—the first use of force in the organization’s 45-year history. O. J. Simpson was arrested, and the Whitewater investigation commenced.

America was again at war in 2004, and the Asian Tsunami claimed 227,898 lives. Ronald Reagan died in June.

In 2014, Malaysian Airlines flight 370 disappeared. ISIS declared an Islamic caliphate. Ebola hit west Africa. Russia annexed Crimea.

Things are always in flux. Someone somewhere is suffering every moment of every day. A future cosmic vandal might well tag the moon with a massive arrow pointing our direction with the caption: This is broken! He or she would be right.

Our nation’s frequent dips into economic crisis are a case in point. Unemployment, bankruptcies, companies on the verge of collapse—these are the frequent lullabies to which children fall asleep as their parents discuss, or argue about, financial strain.

But what was really missing? In all those instances of financial calamity, what did America run out of? The USA had the same amount of farmland, vast numbers of potential workers, and tons of untapped natural resources. We’ve always had everything we needed for prosperity. (That’s not true of every nation, many of which have few resources and unforgiving climates. Mongolia, for example.) So, what went wrong?

Many financial collapses in this country can be attributed to our national tendency to work the system. Remember the housing mortgage crisis in 2008? What we really ran out of was credit. And credit is nothing more than a tool to manage our willingness to resource one another—we ran out of confidence in our neighbors.

Since wealth is produced through stewardship—industry and thrift coupled with wisdom and generosity—any system predicated upon selfishness eventually crumbles under the weight of the disenfranchised. Getting ahead the-easy-way is really the-hard-way in disguise.

But the opposite is also true. Any system permeated with self-less-ness is positioned for blessing. Good ol’ boys say, “What goes around, comes around.” Practitioners of Buddhism and Hinduism embrace the idea of karma. (And what does karma mean? It means, “What goes around, comes around!”) Christians believe that, “God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” So, whether good ol’ boy, Hindu, Buddhist, or Baptist, we all recognize that just deserts are woven into the tapestry of reality.

That’s why real men (and women) plant seeds of blessing in both word and deed. They cultivate the kind of world they want to live in—and they can’t wait to see what 2024 looks like.

If you want a little help with your own personal viticulture, get a copy of Man School: A Practical Guide for Next-Level Living.


The vineyard in winter is cold gray asleep,

But still the wind whispers the truth,

For as the branch sways,

And the frosted light plays

On the vine there’s life in the root.

Affirmation of the Week: I believe in fruit. With every bite of every meal, I celebrate increase. The success of the farmer who cultivated today’s bread testifies to my own personal efficacy. Like them, I am able—and that makes me happy.

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