By Shannon Baker
BCM/D National Correspondent
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.—In an economic climate where fear has replaced hope, nationally syndicated radio talk show host Dave Ramsey has affirmed, “I am an American, and I am not going to participate in the recession!”
Ramsey, a New York Times best-selling author, held a nationwide town hall meeting on April 23 where he discussed what’s happening with the economy, how we got here, and where we’re going.
Over one million people in more than 6,000 host locations joined together to get real answers about the economy and turn back the tide of fear in their communities in a nationally televised Town Hall for Hope, hosted by Fox Business Network’s David Asman and broadcast live from LifeChurch.tv in Oklahoma City, Okla.
As Ramsey addressed the nation, he answered questions through Twitter, Facebook, text messaging and phone calls.
In a candid conversation, Ramsey explained how fear almost overtook him as he listened to seasoned financial experts talk of impending economic collapse. He confessed that he almost fell victim to this thought, “I wonder if I’m wrong, and we are going to lose everything.”
But as a Christian, he realized that a spirit of fear had overtaken him. And in God’s economy, there was no spirit of fear.
“Fear is the antithesis of hope,” he explained, pointing out much worse statistics from former recessions.
For instance, during the Great Depression of 1938-40, “unemployment grew to over 17 percent, the Stock Market dropped 89 percent, and bread lines were real; executives didn’t fly Gulfstreams to Washington, D.C. looking for bailouts,” he said.
Moreover, in 1974, the Stock Market dropped 50 percent, gas lines snaked around the block, and inflation became stagflation, i.e. inflation in a stagnant economy. In 1982, inflation was over 10 percent, unemployment was over 10 percent, and the interest rate reached 17 percent on home mortgages.
He contrasted with 2009’s numbers: “Unemployment is at 8.5 percent, there is no inflation, and the home mortgage rate is 4-3/8 percent. The Stock Market dropped 57 percent, but it has recently risen from a low of 6,400 to over 8,000.”
Concerning foreclosures, he noted that 50 percent of United States foreclosures in 2008 came from 35 counties in 12 states. Only 20 percent of the United States’ population lives in these 35 counties. Moreover, eight counties in Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada were the source of 25 percent of foreclosures.
“Fear is false evidence appearing real,” he stressed. “This is not the worst recession since the Great Depression. We need to stop the hysteria.”
On www.townhallforhope.com, Ramsey outlined three things that Americans can do to stop it.
First, get up and take action.
“You are the cure, America. No one else is going to solve your problems for you—that’s your job!” he urged.
“Find out how you can take control of your money, turn back the fear in your community and hold your representatives accountable for the decisions they’re making on your behalf.”
Ramsey said that change isn’t going to come from Wall Street, Washington or big business.
“Real change will only happen when we, as a nation, take some personal responsibility and identify the specific things we can do to make a difference,” he said.
Secondly, stop listening to loser talk.
“No matter where you turn, it seems all you hear is doom and gloom, as a spirit of fear has settled over the whole nation,” Ramsey said. “If you want to discover hope, you’ve got to remove yourself from those people and places that will always bring you down.”
He urged his listeners to turn off the news, which constantly paints stories of despair. He suggested that Christians inject hope into the discussions.
“Choose hope!” he said. “Watch what you say, and be mindful that your words and attitude will have an impact on those around you.”
Thirdly, start giving again.
“Giving is a natural expression of help and hope in the world,” Ramsey noted. “The bottom line is that greedy people can’t spread hope in the world. Learning how to give—whether it’s money, time or support—changes your whole mindset.”
To illustrate, Ramsey pointed to the Jewish tradition, Havdalah, which uses an overflowing cup to portray the abundance of giving.
“We’re called to do such a fantastic job at providing for our families that there is an overflow—an abundance of resources. And out of that abundance, we have a responsibility to help others,” he said, explaining that “giving” doesn’t necessarily mean “money.” Oftentimes, the most meaningful gift you can give is the gift of time and attention.
“Get out of your house and show your community hope in action,” he said. “Don’t buy into the notion that the government will supply your every need. Make it your goal to out-give the government. We can’t win if we can’t give.”
In conclusion, Ramsey pointed to the greatest hope for America and beyond. “Hope doesn’t come from Washington; real hope comes from the nail-scarred hands,” he said.
Since April 23, over 13,160 (and counting) people have signed online to say that they choose hope and refuse to participate in the recession. To purchase a DVD of the event or to join the conversation, visit online at www.townhallforhope.com.