Friday, October 31, 2008

We're all in this together

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — What a surprise if it turns out that it took a global economic crises to finally make us realize we’re all in this together.
A thought for a tough month: True friends and a fiesta spirit will get you though times of no money better than money will get you through times of no fiesta spirit nor true friends.
I woke up after a night of tortured tropical dreams. My first thought in that moment when you realize that reality can be considerably better than one’s dreams: “Gracias a Dios: I’m in Las Cruces, not in Palm Beach.”
I remember hard times in the 1980s and 90s in the capital of arrogance and greed, in a Florida county that was home to some of the wealthiest and poorest people on the planet. I quickly learned that for the very rich, nothing is ever quite enough, even in boom times.
In the enclaves of millionaires and billionaires, were some of the surliest souls I’ve ever encountered, anywhere on the planet. Especially those who had come to the end of what money could buy and found themselves spiritually bankrupt. Morally bereft. And, too often, loaded for bear.
If they were so terminally crabby and anxious in good times, imagine what the watering holes of the rich and famous have been like this fall, with the worst financial news in most of our lifetimes, breaking in regular, relentless tsunami waves.
By contrast, Las Crucens seemed to be in pretty good spirits.
Among my colleagues, it’s generally accepted that none of us went into the new biz to get rich.
As Janis Joplin warbled in “Me and Bobby McGee,” Kris Kristopherson’s immortal ditty: “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”
And there is a certain liberation in not having zillions invested in the stock market, which means none of us has lost zillions.
People who have paid off their homes are having a little fiesta of celebration, and those of us who bought homes with mortgages we can still afford are breathing a sigh of relief.
Most of the concern and angst I’ve heard and felt in recent weeks in Las Cruces emanated from people concerned not about themselves , but about others.
It’s a phenomenon I’d already experienced in the most impoverished corners of some of the world’s richest communities. During mild recessions, I’ve listened to millionaires anguish relentlessly about having to give up their Lear jet to economize by flying first class, or cutting out one of their many annual yacht cruises or trips to Europe. At the same time, on the other end of the economic see-saw, I’ve been in the economic trenches with seniors on very limited incomes and single moms trying to support their kids on minimum wage jobs. And I’ve seen them quietly take up collections or anonymously slip a $10 or $20 bill (a lot for someone on minimum wage) into the pocket or locker of a coworker they knew needed help even more.
I’ve seen that sharing spirit in all kinds of places in New Mexico: graceful gifts of food, clothes and folding cash in hard times.
And lately, I’ve noticed something else: a sense that we are all in this together. In a world of wars-to-end-wars that never did, I wonder if a global economic crises could ironically be the thing that finally convinces us that our fates are all inexorably linked.
And maybe, if we can figure out some creative cooperative solutions for the crises over money and credit, things the world seem ready to react to with immediacy, it would go a long way toward convincing us that creativity and cooperation could be concepts to consider for resolving issues of health, and the ecology, to say nothing of religious, ethnic and territorial issues.
Wouldn’t it be something if this money mess finally helped us band together to resolve some of the messes that the lust for material goodies has been getting us into for millenniums? What if the global economic meltdown is what finally makes us realize we are all in this together?
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

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