ARBOR OUTLOOK: The next Greatest Generation: A new challenge

Margaret R. McDowell
Walton Sun

"Sometimes my burden ... is more than I can bear; It's not dark yet ... but it's gettin' there." — from "It's Not Dark Yet," as performed by Bob Dylan

Most of us are worried. We're concerned about the health of our family, friends and neighbors; we pray for our nation's future and for the global community; we grieve that our young and our elders must spend their special years in separateness and fear; we wonder when “normalcy” will return, and when it does, what it will look like; and we worry about our retirement accounts and investments in such uncertain economic times.

The esteemed, late author Willie Morris, writing about the atrocities committed during the civil rights era, once referred to the "thin veneer of civilization." Morris believed that, in tumultuous times, we can become venal and mean creatures bereft of cultured behavior.

I think we are now seeing just the opposite: the best of our civilization rising to meet an unprecedented challenge. We have not been called upon to sacrifice collectively and individually in so many ways since World War II. The Greatest Generation endured gas and rubber rationing, purchased war bonds, and planted victory gardens to support the war effort. "Meatless Mondays" and "Wheatless Wednesdays," ideas originated and carried out in World War I, were revived in World War II.

Our own current sacrifices are and will not be insignificant. Social distancing is difficult, and in many cases, is commensurate with economic loss for individuals and business owners. The spread of COVID-19 in meat and pork producing plants may mean a temporary meat shortage, and we may undergo dietary sacrifices similar to years past.

Most of us want to act in the best interests of our nation's collective health, even if and sometimes because it involves sacrifice to do so. This is our challenging moment, and I believe we will prevail over our current difficulties.

Our government is reaching out, with checks for individuals and businesses. For some, it won't be enough or in time; in many cases, it will. Equally as important, we are reaching out to one another with acts of selflessness and kindness.

I don't know when our economic plight will improve, or when markets will regain lost ground. I do know that historically the stock market has doubled roughly every decade. And I believe strongly in our economy and in our way of life and what the future holds. It also doesn’t hurt that the Fed and Congress are implementing unprecedented amounts of stimulus intended to prop up the economy until it can stand on its own two feet. These are dark days, but there are brighter ones ahead.

Would we rather be living in 1918, facing a global influenza pandemic; in 1933, suffering through the Great Depression and a complete market collapse; or in our current era, employing individual relief and PPP benefits packages. Even with our current challenges, I would choose to be right here, right now, as part of the Next Greatest Generation making its own valued historical contribution.

Margaret R. McDowell, ChFC, AIF, author of the syndicated economic column "Arbor Outlook," is the founder of Arbor Wealth Management, LLC, (850-608-6121 —, a “fee-only” registered investment advisory firm located near Sandestin.