May 30, 2012 - Europe's financial crisis is still making news and shaking the world markets. Financial uncertainty reigns because of the inability to deal with financial problems in an immediate way.
The prevailing logic is that they must do something now to give the markets and people a sense of security in the future. However, security in the future can only come if they are willing to deal with some very difficult choices now. The problem is that no one wants to suffer now or in the future.
The people do not want to be held responsible for past choices that have put their financial security in jeopardy. In the midst of this global crisis, governments are falling and the ones left standing are scrambling to hold on to power by giving the people what they want.
Many people say that we should learn from the mistakes of the great depression and spend money to spur economic development. They tell us that the way out of our debt problems is to spend more money.
The problem with the Great Depression was that the governments were afraid to spend us back to prosperity.
The truth is—government programs didn't pull us out as much as World War 2. There are many different debates as to what pulled us out, but I do know something that sustained 60 years of economic growth.
The generation of the great depression came out of that time with a lesson of financial freedom.
They came out with the understanding of the need to save money and plan for the future, without "assuming" life would always be without a crisis.
That mentality produced a generation of people with the character of sacrifice and responsibility, which my generation benefited from.
I may not know how government economics work enough to have an intelligent argument on world finance, but I do know the impact of character and proper principles. Macroeconomics may be debatable; but for me, the micro is about personal character and integrity. When we deal with the core issue, we will find that some of the bigger issues will take care of themselves.
This brings me back to the impact of World War 2. For the United States, it certainly is true that the war immediately cured our lack of jobs. Sending millions of people to war, and enlisting the women to replace them, had a great impact on the economy.
The fact that the industrial might of Europe and Asia were destroyed in the war put America in a very good position to become the economic leader of the world. Another amazing contribution was the development of the character of "sacrifice of the individual for the greater cause of democracy and freedom."
The generation that faced the Great Depression was now facing the evils of totalitarianism. The first crisis that they faced concerned economic well-being; now, their very freedom to live as they saw fit was being challenged. They rallied to the cause.
Again, the challenges they faced formed the character to face the crisis. How did this come about? They were willing to make the sacrifice of the moment in order to secure not only their freedom, but also the generations that would follow.
During this Memorial Day season, we should remind ourselves of the great sacrifices that others have made for us. Their sacrifice laid the foundation for the time of great blessing that we have experience for many years. The greatest honor we can bestow on someone is when we set ourselves to emulate his or her example. We need to rally ourselves in this time of great crisis, to willingly sacrifice for the future generations.
In the 1930's, most of Europe chose to listen to despots. They followed men who promised them easy solutions by blaming their plight on others. The result was people trying to take from others. Is history repeating itself?
The Rev. Loren Covarrubias is pastor of Mt. Zion Church.