A long-time friend of mine called the other day and said, “California is on fire and we are moving to Savannah. I checked the statistics and found that more than 600,000 people moved from California last year. Perhaps not all of them moved because of the fires. But, one cannot deny that California is in a five-year drought and the annual arrival of the Santa Ana Winds can fan the flames into a fury and make life miserable for large populations.

Also, we are at the beginning of what promises to be a very negative election year. Candidates for president are consistently taking the low road with their rhetoric. Much of what they say we can discount as those on the outside trying to get elected. But, if we believe what they say, that our country is no longer great, that our military is weak, that our economic system is fragile and might fail, that half of our citizens are on the dole, etc., etc., etc., it would be easy to get into what teenagers call a “blue funk.” The experts tell us if we hear something often enough, we begin to believe it.

With all of this happening, here are some thoughts to help us stay positive in the midst of all of this negative. Let’s start by looking inside ourselves and taking control of our own state of mind. A man was having problems with his digestion and became convinced it felt just like a frog jumping in his stomach. He could not be convinced otherwise, so his wife and a compliant doctor concocted a plan to relieve his worry. After a sham surgery, the man proudly showed a frog preserved in a jar to all of his neighbors. He said, “I told you there was a frog in there. You thought I was crazy but here is the proof I’m not.” All went well until one of his neighbors said, “Man, you have been through some ordeal with that frog. I sure hope it didn’t lay any eggs in there.” We all know how this story ends.

So much of what ails us is in our state of mind. If we want to be sick, we can make ourselves so. If we have infirmities, and we all do, we can give in to them, or not. If we want to see the glass as half empty instead of half full we can. But, for sure, we don’t have to believe everything the talking heads tell us.

Folks, the stock market, our primary economic indicator is now up over 26,000. Unemployment country-wide is below 4%. Any country in Europe would be pleased to have our economic indicators. What is the message of all of this? As 1920s President Calvin Coolidge told us, “The business of America is still business,” and our friends who run the retail stores down on main street are smiling. Business is good.

The “yes, but” people have been working overtime telling us how bad things are in our country. As the old county boy said, “It just ain’t so.” Don’t get me wrong, we have some serious problems to solve. But, our government and our economic system was put in place by some very smart people and it has proven itself over the years. The system works. Government is a lot like Mark Twain said about the weather, “If you don’t like it just wait a bit and it will change.” Yes, we have an election coming up in just 12 months.

So, our sincere wish for you is a healthy family, lots of very good friends, strong trust in our leaders and our system, and a full boatload of optimism. Gee, I wonder if that frog did lay some eggs in there. No? We must be ok then.
You can reach Dr. Mark L. Hopkins at marklhopkins@att.net. Books by Hopkins, “Journey to Gettysburg, The Wounds of War, The World as it was When Jesus Came,” and “Facts & Opinions on the Issues of our Time,” can be acquired at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and through the email above.