THE BLOG
12/14/2012 12:51 pm ET Updated Feb 13, 2013

A Fiscal Cliff for All

I am confident that President Obama and members of Congress will find at least a temporary solution for the coming fiscal cliff. Why? Because they are our leaders and I have confidence they will act, and secondly, well... they have to. Simply put, too much is at stake right now, even for traditional political games.

This said, as I said recently on CNN, most Americans are experiencing their own unique "fiscal cliff" every month. t's called having "too much month at the end of their money."

Everyone I know, knows someone in financial trouble, or dealing with some form of economic stress. And I am not talking about so-called poor people. This global economic crisis is and always has been a solid middle-class crisis. That's why the crisis has gotten as much attention as it has from political leadership since its onset in 2008. Simply put, "poor people don't have $20 trillion dollars to lose."

Even before this crisis, the U.S. Federal Reserve had reported that approximately 70 percent of all Americans were living from paycheck to paycheck. That's not 70 percent of black folks, or Latino folks, or Native American or Asians folks, or poor white folks, but 70 percent of all folks. So no matter whether you are black, white, red, brown, or yellow, increasingly you want to see some more green -- as in U.S. currency. Translation: We are in this mess together.

If you are living in NYC and making $70,000 a year, you are struggling to make ends meet.

If you are living in say Washington, D.C., and making less than $50,000 a year, you are struggling to make ends meet.

If you are living in a small town, anywhere in America, and making say $30,000 a year, you are struggling to make ends meet.

In the current environment, struggling is just struggling, and skin color doesn't make the pain feel any better. Or as a friend once told me, "When white America has a headache, black America has pneumonia, but we are all sick." Amen.

At our recent HOPE Global Financial Dignity Summit, featuring U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke amongst others (Nov. 14-15, 2012, Atlanta), Dr. Bernice A. King, the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., reminded us all that her dad's last campaign was the Poor People's Campaign, and his last book was Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? In many ways, 45 years later, we are still grappling with the same troubling question -- Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?

In the final analysis, I may not be able to do anything about the federal government's fiscal cliff, but I can do something to help the average, everyday American to deal with the challenges and stresses surrounding what feels like their own recurring monthly fiscal cliff. Frankly, you can help here too! We call it financial dignity, and it is embodied in a new movement from civil rights, to silver rights, or how to make free enterprise and capitalism work for all of these, God's children: black, white, red, brown and yellow.

What if our HOPE Corps of 20,000 professionals, swelled to a national movement of more than 50,000, or maybe even 100,000 committed American citizens; all using their skills, talents and abilities in the broader areas of financial knowledge (financial literacy), the common-sense business of running and managing a successful household (the number one cause for divorce in America is money), small business, entrepreneurship and job creation? We could rally together a new call for the freedom of self-determination, in an economic age, and help to set a generation of American dreamers free. Free -- to help save America, from the inside out. Maybe this is what Dr. King had in mind when he called forth his final movement of economic justice for all.

We are all in this thing together.

"Civil rights was about race and the color line, but silver rights is about class and poverty. Civil rights was fought and won in the streets, while silver rights will be negotiated and achieved in the suites. Office suites, that is."

With the opening on Nov. 14, 2012, of the new Martin Luther King Sr. Community Resource Complex featuring the HOPE Financial Dignity Center Atlanta, at Ebenezer Church, located on the broader King Center grounds, we believe that we are doing our part to help ease the personal fiscal cliff for individuals, to move credit scores to 700 in underserved communities, and in our humble way, helping to make the Dr. King and "Daddy King" legacy relevant to a new 21st Century generation. Far too many people think of only the iconic " I Have a Dream" speech when thinking of Dr. King, and equally troubling, most leaders today have no idea about the life and legacy of his father, Martin Luther King Sr. (Daddy King) at all. Daddy King served on the board of a bank for 40 years, while co-pastoring Ebenezer Church with his son during the heat of the civil rights movement. From civil rights, to silver rights for all.

Yes, these are indeed tough times for far too many in America and around the world, but we are resilient and built to survive, adapt and thrive. We are the American company, built to last. Her people.

Fact is, "rainbows only follow storms. You cannot have a rainbow without a storm first."

John Hope Bryant is a thought leader, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), the only African-American bestselling business author in America, and is chairman of the Subcommittee for the Under-Served and Community Empowerment for the U.S. President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability, for President Barack Obama. Mr. Bryant is the co-founder of the Gallup-HOPE Index, the only national research poll on youth financial dignity and youth economic energy in the U.S. He is also a co-founder of Global Dignity with HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway and Professor Pekka Himanen of Finland. Global Dignity is affiliated with the Forum of Young Global Leaders and the World Economic Forum. Mr. Bryant is a though leader represented by the Bright Sight Group for public speaking. Mr. Bryant serves on the board of directors of Ares Commercial Real Estate Corporation, an NYSE Euronext publicly traded company, and a division of $54 billion Ares Capital.

Sign up for our email.
Find out how much you really know about the state of the nation.