Excerpt from a magazine:
“It is a gloomy moment in history. Not in the lifetime of any man who reads his paper has there been so much grave and deep apprehension; never has the future seemed so dark and incalculable.
“In France, the political cauldron seethes and bubbles with uncertainty. England and the English Empire is being sorely tried and exhausted in a social and economic struggle, with turmoil at home and uprising of her teeming millions in her far-flung Indian Empire.
“The United States is beset with racial, industrial and commercial chaos – drifting, we know not where. Russia hangs like a storm cloud on the horizon of Europe – dark and silent.
“It is a solemn moment, and no man can feel indifference, which happily no man pretends to feel in the issue of events. Of our own troubles, no man can see the end.”
For the most part, that could have been written today, but it first appeared as a column by the editor of Harper’s Magazine on Oct. 10, 1857 – nearly 165 years ago.
Titled “The Awful Uncertainty of the Future,” it is hands down one of the most gloom-and-doom pieces I’ve ever read. I first came across this piece in 1980, and I still remember it today because of its incredible morosity.
Throughout history, the world has faced ups and downs. Yet through world wars, global plagues and crushing depressions, we have prevailed. Our current economic situation is no exception. Better times lie ahead, and hard work, ingenuity and a willingness to adapt will be the tools that dig us out.
It also bears mentioning that the Harper’s piece was written four years berfore the start of the Civil War, yet the writer only hints at factors that would rip apart the United States. What we often perceive as our biggest threats are not always the real threats.
What were your biggest concerns in 2007? You weren’t likely spending much time worrying about a global economic meltdown. There were signs all around that the housing market was headed for a serious correction in the U.S., but few of us were predicting a collapse that would nearly bring down Wall Street and trigger five years of decline in the construction industry.
The point is, nobody can predict the future. All we can do is best position ourselves for success given the information at hand, and be ready to roll with the punches.