Monday, March 16, 2009
Would an apology be enough?
As nations across the globe frets about extricating itself from the financial crisis, there is one group of people to whom the rest of the world owe the most sincere words of apology.
That group consists of the oldest of our fellow citizens. The men and women who had went through the Great Depression when they were young, who fought and endured World War II when they were just a little older, and who had hoped for a sense of peace and tranquility in their final years on this earth.
Yes, they don't deserve what they are going through.
I am sure these men and women who had endured the Depression and World War II had played it straight when it come to putting their trust in financial institutions. They didn't believe in complicated money schemes. I bet, they were cautious, because the two defining national events of their lives taught them that they can never really count on anything. They have watched their own parents suffer during the Depression, and some went overseas for years on end when their nation asked them to save the world, and when they came home, they crossed their fingers and hoped the good times were not an illusion.
We all know by now that the mistakes and tricks and reckless gambles of the supposedly sophisticated masters of Wall Street did not only bring down America’s economy, but also to countries overseas, thus wounding old citizen across many countries, many of whom, had never even heard the names of the men who ran the biggest investment banks and brokerage firms.
This is so unfair. Because once more, in a lifetime that has been filled with sacrifices, they are having to pay the terrible price for decisions in which they had no say.
All that our senior citizen had asked for, in their final years, is a sense of safety, of stability. They already knew what it was like to go to sleep night after night with their stomachs knotted in fear. What we the present generation owed them was nights, at the end, when they never again had to feel that dread in the darkness.
Now they are feeling it, and there is nothing that their sons and daughters, their grandsons and granddaughters can do to convince them that their fear in the night is groundless. What they are being forced to go through now is in the most elemental sense of this word - SHAME.
I hope they know how sorry we all are.