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Published: January, 2012; Vol 8, Num 8

 

Looking Up Despite Depressing Trends:

When the Going Gets Tough…

Three years into this recession, no end is in sight. Millions of construction workers are out of work; thousands of contractors have closed up shop.

Even those still working feel the strain. Everyone knows someone – often a family member – who is unemployed, someone who has been foreclosed, someone with an elderly dependent parent or someone with college loans they cannot pay. If you don't know them personally, you've heard about them from the 24-hour media barrage. You feel the pressure…

Meanwhile, politicians everywhere are locked down in polar opposite postures. No room for compromise. Government services are slashed; collective bargaining is under attack. The social safety nets once taken for granted are threatened, and our futures feel uncertain.

Against this discordant backdrop, we struggle individually and in our families to keep balance and maintain hope. But the tension creeps into everyone's life. There's less civility in the check-out line, more bullying in schools, more hostility at work. Mental and emotional health is suffering. Intolerance is on the rise. We're watching out for ourselves because it feels like no one else is, but we sometimes forget what it's like to walk in another's shoes.

In our realm – health promotion and occupational safety and health – the public debate often seems tired and hopeless. We know it's not a choice between big government or individual responsibility. Rather, both government and individuals have roles and share accountability, and they are only two players among a variety of forces and means that now contribute significantly in the most effective avenues of overall progress.

Here at the Fund, we see many signs of renewed vigor, of creative, collaborative problem-solving that works outside the boundaries of gridlock and despair. We see opportunities for constructive advance in the year ahead, both in our own efforts and in the broader context in which we operate.

Take a look. In the following pages, we announce upcoming LHSFNA initiatives and survey some promising advances from others. Maybe you too will draw encouragement from these openings and can help accelerate their development.

[Steve Clark]