Facing Financial Fears with Faith

By: W.R. Stephens, written after the stock market crash of October 1987

Through the 200 years of American history, this country has been constantly besieged by bad news. If the early settlers had believed things were as bad as they sounded they would have given up the fight to settle the new world and sailed back to England, and the dream of freedom would have perished.

From that day to the present the people of this nation have listened to the bad news for a while, then they turned their backs on that which was bad, placed their faith in God and faced toward that which was good.

Down through the years, through a tragic Civil War, two worldwide wars, a series of small conflicts, recession and the great depression of the 1930’s, we have heard again and again the words of citizen Tom Paine, “ These are times that try men’s souls.” In every case the people rejected the bad news and overcame whatever obstacle was facing them at that time.

Once again, we are put to the test. Everything we hear is bad. We are smothered with a never-ending succession of newspaper, radio and television reports on ... drug abuse, crime in the streets, decadent morals and lack of honest and competent leadership. If citizen Tom Paine were alive today, he could well utter again his famous quotation.

It is impossible to lock your door against the invasion of the news media into every nook of your home and office. They don’t make the news, they merely report it. Tell it as it is. We have the option of acceptance or rejection. We can bemoan what is happening in our world, wring our hands and cover our heads, or we can reject the bad and look about us to the good.

When I was a boy on a small farm in Grant County, Arkansas, news wasn’t as quickly available as it is today and reached us mainly by word of mouth. A “drummer” would come by or one of our neighbors returned from a trip to Little Rock or Memphis and we saw the news through their eyes. Mostly it was about what was bad in big cities or throughout the country.
After listening a while, my father would say, “That’s enough bad news for one day. Let’s go to work.” America has heard enough bad news for a while. Now is the time to go to work. Turn your back on the bad news and look around you at what is good. You don’t need to look far. Your family, your children, your friends and neighbors, they are good.

We live today in the greatest country the world has ever known, filled with opportunities which never existed before. The highest standards of living, more leisure time, better health services, better schools, more jobs, finer homes and freedom to enjoy these wonders.

This is indeed the time to turn our backs on the bad news and face the future with thankfulness.

-W.R. “Witt” Stephens, founder of Stephens, Inc., an investment firm in Little Rock, Arkansas wrote this memo after the stock markets fell on “Black Friday” in October 1987. Witt Stephens has since passed away, but the firm thought it was appropriate to revive his 21 year old memo, saying, “His wisdom and good advice lives on.”

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