What a Difference a Day Makes

by colbert | January 6, 2010

I have long marveled at the capacity of Homo sapiens to use the Gregorian construct of calendar days to act, think and feel differently. 364 days after our date of birth, we have a thing called a birthday. A day where we believe we are more special than the day before and the day after. We also believe that the third Thursday of the month of November is the day to give thanks. And we believe that Fridays are days we can begin to relax and Sundays are days of rest. Well, at least we used to believe that. And we believe that the new year, as represented by January 1st, represents a whole new world, or at least a whole new capacity to create a new world, which implies that December 31st did not carry the same potential… Now, I know deep in the recesses of my left brain that that is just silly. A day is a day is a day. But that’s not always true.

The turning of the page from the dark and stormy 2009 into 2010 has brought with it an almost palpable collective exclaim of “phew” and “hurrah” and sunny declarations that this new year will be a better year. And that’s a good thing. The capacity of people to move forward is in large part predicated on how they feel. Give them hope and they will engage. Give them doubt and they will circle their wagons. Japan’s lost decade being perhaps the best example of the latter. My worry is that the hope and positivism that is appearing presumes that the good times we left two years ago are somehow magically about to be back. That all those jobs will return, that the dollar will strengthen, that home sales will return, that all will be just the way it was. I think not. I don’t believe that world will ever return. Nor should it. The new order of things says there are no gimmies, and that value is everything. The value of the dollar, the value of the home, the value of the worker, the value of the brand. Many businesses have commoditized or been dis-intermediated, our capacity to out-produce the world has been long lost, and our incestuous consumer-credit-based economy has pretty much eaten itself and its kin. Our ability to regain our economic footing is purely predicated on creating more value than others can create. And while that may seem daunting, as individuals, businesses and country, the first step is to believe we can. And thank god for January 1st. What a difference a day makes.

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