by Senator Patricia Jones
Assistant Senate Minority Whip, Utah State Senate
Co-Owner/Focus Group Moderator, Dan Jones and Associates
Uncertainty about today’s shaky economy and unsure political future has crept into our living rooms – leaving many Utah residents wary of what the future holds for the nation, as well as their families.
Quarterly economic forecasts from Zions Bank show that the list of questions and uncertainties is growing for most Americans; the confidence level across the board is dropping.
As a public opinion researcher and professional focus group moderator, I listen to people for a living. As I meet men and women around the nation and here at home, the questions are the same: How will the recession affect me? How can I afford skyrocketing health care costs? Will my children and grandchildren be able to afford a home? Will my loved ones be safe and secure?
The upcoming generation is also facing their own dilemmas: Will there be jobs for me after graduation? Should I get a degree or learn a skill? Unsure economic forecasts and understaffed school guidance counselors are only leaving our sons and daughters in more of a quandary.
And many Americans are facing literal storms as well. Wild weather across the nation has left many feeling isolated and helpless both physically and emotionally. In the Midwest, many residents are left asking themselves whether it’s more important to go inside to escape a tornado or climb a mountain to escape the flood.
Understandably, a blanket of uncertainty and fear has settled everywhere we turn, and I meet people every day looking for a leader to give them answers. People are losing faith in once trusted institutions like government and business. Unfortunately, today’s heated political environment has both sides pitted against each other in a constant struggle to undermine one another. That’s one more institution that has robbed you and me of our faith, and sadly, left many disengaged from and dissatisfied with the community.
I have dubbed these men and women “Citizens Against Virtually Everything” (C.A.V.E.). Approximately 25 percent of the population belongs to this cynical group who complain about everything rather than contributing.
Some local groups such as the United Way and the Salt Lake Chamber are offering solutions. The real solution starts with the individual. We must again be willing to contribute and invest time in each other and in the community. If you know your neighbors, you’re going to feel more secure and less alone. It’s just that simple.
The cure for our fears is within our own communities, our neighborhoods and our homes. Perhaps it’s time to renew a sense of community that has been lost with families scattered across the globe and neighbors who don’t even know each other’s names.
I have four siblings who live in Florida, Texas, Washington and Hawaii. However, that distance hasn’t deteriorated our family network, but it takes effort to maintain.
Creating a security network to help weather tough times requires us to collectively reach out to neighbors and family we don’t see often enough, and make it a priority to spend time with those physically and emotionally close to us. That’s hard in today’s world when we are all so strapped for time and resources.
When you have strong communities that take care of their children, their parents and their seniors, strong, prosperous societies follow. When those social networks break down, when people have no connection to one another, trouble starts.
More political, economic, and even literal storms will surely come. Take out your umbrella, pull together, and put more faith in us.