Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Job's Comforters and the Economy

A lot of people believe that stress is always a bad thing. With so many people unemployed, there are articles and seminars talking about how to deal with stress. This article talks about how stress can sometimes be a good thing. It can energize us, mobilize us and teach us resiliency at times.

I was thinking about stress the other day when an unemployed friend of mine who thought she would get help with her COBRA payment found out she did not fall within the designated group because, apparently, she was laid off too soon. She told me how she finally wrote her congressman when she discovered this because, actually, she has been struggling even longer to make ends meet and find a job. Her response to the stress of having her hope dashed that she would get some help with the enormous cost of paying COBRA was to mobilize.

Now those who like to play the role of Job's comforters would most likely tell her and people like her that the stimulus package can't cover everyone. Maybe they would go so far as to tell her that she has had more time to find a job - never mind that it was during one of the worst economic periods of our country during which every week more people were being laid off.

What these folks fail to see is that my friend isn't looking for a handout. What my friend really wants is a job. She has worked since college and has never been laid off before. She is in a field that has been devastated by the current economic crisis, so she's realistic and has told interviewers that she will take less pay by half and work at jobs she had a decade ago. My friend uses a wheelchair and has had to make special arrangements for interviews scheduled in buildings that lack access. She's tried headhunters, temp agencies - you name it.

I know what it's like to deal with Job's comforters. Those who are Job's comforters often fail to see that bad things could happen to them. They cling, even in the face of contrary evidence, to the Just World theory where, if a person does everything right, everything will go right. And if it doesn't, they point to the person and finger wag.

I tell my friend that I'm proud of her for continuing to mobilize in reaction to stress, for speaking up about how the stimulus package affects real people who are part of the unemployment crisis.


Goldie said...

If we never had hardship we would never grow. One of the best things that ever happened to my husband's family was a lay-off that his Dad suffered. It propelled them into a totally NEW direction. Yet the night it happened and the news was broken at the dinner tabel was one of the the worst nights of their life.

I am of course not trying to underplay the terrifying scope of the current financial crisis. But it can present people with life changing exeperiences & opportunties

FridaWrites said...

I hadn't heard the term "Job's comforter's" before--the short wiki was useful for explaining the relationship to attribution error. I've been doing some writing about specific books, Oprah episodes, etc. that are popularizing this notion (the law of attraction idea, countless new books on it).

Going back and reading the New Testament and talking with friends who are disabled and spiritual has helped me, as has talking to those who are on the agnostic end. There are a lot of logical fallacies in this line of thought.