Guy Crouchback: Crisis maybe, Armageddon it ain’t

13 May 2009

By The Record

Things might be bad but The Record’s Guy Crouchback says that things have been far worse.


The mainstream media around the world have behaved very badly over reporting the current credit crisis. It is plainly fairly serious but it is not, as too many media reports would have us believe, Armageddon or anything like it.
One columnist in a major British paper ended his final column for 2008 wishing readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in “these specially dark times,” plainly wanting to be seen as a brave little chap whistling in the night.
Actually, they are NOT especially dark times. Go back to 1974 in the aftermath of the October War and the OPEC crisis, and you will find even more dire predictions of doom filling the press. But the world not only survived but shortly afterwards embarked on a prolonged period of economic growth and a great explosion of democratic freedoms.
The Reagan Presidency saw the creation of 20 million new jobs in the US alone, and a vast reduction of poverty world-wide.
The greatest danger is that the media’s irresponsible doom-saying will become a self-fulfilling prophecy and by destroying hope and confidence will prolong the recession more than necessary.
It is true that the end of the Cold War took a sort of fundamental seriousness out of our lives, and one does not need to be a Savonarola to have been dismayed and disgusted by the vacuity and decadence of much of the present decade, as well as, for example, by the way Russia used its temporary, oil-based prosperity for nothing more edifying than attempted re-armament.
We now know the chief cause of the credit crisis was the incredible folly of political pressure groups in America, chasing the mirage of “social justice” and attempting to repeal the laws of supply and demand by forcing lending institutions to give poor people mortgages they could not service. I do not share the glee and schadenfreude of some over the credit crisis, but perhaps we have all been given a chance to learn some wisdom and something of reality.
GK Chesterton said one of the human race’s favourite games was called “cheat the prophet,” and so it has proved. Only six months or so ago we were being told on the best of authority that the era of cheap oil was ended forever. Oil is now cheaper, in inflation-adjusted terms, than it has been in decades – though of course this does not mean we should give up conservation measures or stop the development of alternative fuels.
During a REALLY dark time – the early part of World War II when it looked as if Hitler was going to win, King George VI in a radio broadcast read the following poem, which may be a good antidote to fear and self-pity in these far less dark times:
I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied, “Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!”
So I went forth and finding the Hand of God
Trod gladly into the night
He led me towards the hills
And the breaking of day in the lone east.
So heart be still!
What need our human life to know
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife of things
Both high and low,
God hideth his intention.