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Kenneth Kales Headshot

We Are Witnesses

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We are witnesses to one of the most dramatic periods in our country's history and that of the world. Not only is the tumultuous nature of The Great Recession affecting us to the core of our stamina and faith, in a practical sense it is affecting how well we eat, how comfortable we are at death, how well we sleep at night, how much love and attention we are able to show those in our lives, and how well we respond to genocide and other atrocities in the farthest corners of the world.

Since 2008 when most economists pinpoint our economic crisis to have exploded, now four years later, there seems to be tangible evidence with higher consumer optimism, better employment levels, and hints of a housing recovery, that we may truly have cause for taking a deep breath. This time though, through these years of great hardship, our deep breath is for a sustainable economy and not just a survivable one.

Many refer to those living through severe hardship decades ago as the "Greatest Generation." There were indeed great individuals showing strength and fortitude to give us the world we have now. No doubt, we have enjoyed the fruits of their sacrifices. But we too are a great generation having survived "The Great Recession" with its many parallels to The Depression. And of course with the tragic loss of life from that era in wars, to our own tragic loss of life in modern wars.

In addition, we are witnesses to the collapse of communism, the rise and fall of nuclear uses, the real world being replaced by the virtual world, the rightful empowerment of minorities and women toward greater equality, and the technological revolution that has displaced countless numbers of the seven billion people around the world. It is so tumultuous now, whereas any single one of these transitions by themselves would be enough to cause disruption in the normal course of our lives. But taken cumulatively, keeping our feet on the ground during this period is indeed heroic and historical.

There will come a time, perhaps in twenty years or fifty years when those of us who lived though the turn of the millennium will be measured with a historical perspective. It is not a competition to say who is the greatest generation. It is only honest though to acknowledge that these historic times, from September 11, 2001 to today with our hopeful stabilization leading into 2012, have required from most of us more drive and resilience than we may have thought we had.

I believe history will judge us, with our warts and all, to ultimately recognize we have done well as a people. The measure of our character will be one that future generations will look back on for inspiration during their own times of trouble.

I hope for greater comfort and stability in 2012 for all people around the world.