“The monsters are due on Maple Street,” (1960) was a classic. I recall it every time I read divisive tales about some one or group, or ill-defined boogie man, who has singlehandedly turned out the lights on our country and our economy.
This particular episode takes place on a late summer night. Maple Street is full of children’s laughter. A shadow passes overhead, a loud roar is heard and there’s an inexplicable flash of light. Folks glance up, but no one really does anything until it affects them personally. After dark, they discover there is no power in their homes. None of their machines work.
With one exception. Mysteriously, there are lights on in one home.
At the beginning of the scene, the neighbors without power gather in the street to calmly recount the events, and collectively make sense of what has happened. The fervor of their pitch raises with every unanswered question until it turns to angst, suspicion and eventually incrimination. Suddenly, finger-pointing kicks into high gear, and those in the crowd begin to target those with “power.”
The gathered neighbors eventually devolve into a hysterical mob, rioting through the neighborhood.
That was 1960 and Hollywood’s parable for the times. Even today, this physical condition called fear, plays a large part in our economic condition.
Mort Zukerman speaks of fear in The Closer. He writes of consumers who refuse to spend and businesses that refuse to hire.
Certainly, Americans are upset.
What we do with the consternation is our choice, and our freedom. But what we choose to do with the fear, also determines our future.
Human nature may be predictable, but the future is our choice.
I maintain that some day, in the not too distant future, we will speak of the Great Recession as one of our finest hours.