Tough love in a recession

Posted by HC in 'In the news...' / Ethics / Spirituality on 15 October 2008

Lots of people have been e-mailing me for advice about surviving a recession. Indeed, it’s an interesting question. I have often said how lucky people are to be well-off and in a world with rising expectations. What’s my message for a world of falling expectations?It’s simple, really. Get tough or go under. You may think this is odd advice for a spiritual guru to give. But what did you expect? Spirituality isn’t about being soft and fluffy. It’s about knowing and relishing realities. It isn’t about escape. Indeed, it’s the opposite: it’s about facing things. 

In good times, I argued that one had to find grace in advantage. One had to become worth the good fortune that had been heaped on one. In bad times, one has to find grace in adversity.

Indeed, I am old school. I believe that the surest way to grace is through humiliation. Not everyone makes it by any means. Lots of people, faced with adversity, find only bitterness. That’s why we seek to diminish adversity: we’d prefer the problems it brings.

I’m not at all sure that one either is or is not tough enough for grace. I think many people can produce spiritual toughness. It’s like running – or what I’m told running is like. There’s pain and then pleasure, but the pain is manageable for most people, and the pleasure very real. Spirituality is like that.

I didn’t wish this recession on people, and I worry about those who won’t survive it. But then I accept that grace and spirituality – like toughness and courage – are not give to everyone. For the weak, only being loved by the tough is any use.

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