Phil Maymin
Fairfield County Weekly
March 21, 2009

When Homer Simpson got banned from Moe’s bar, Lisa tried to console him. “Look on the bright side, Dad,” she said. “Did you know that the Chinese use the same word for ‘crisis’ as they do for ‘opportunity?'”

“Yes!” Homer exclaimed. “Cris-atunity!” Inspired, he sprinted off in search of a new bar.

[efoods]Lisa, usually so smart, was wrong. The Chinese word for crisis does not mean opportunity. That is an urban myth — repeated by John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Condoleeza Rice and Al Gore. The Chinese word weiji is a combination of wei, meaning danger, and ji, meaning crucial point (when something begins or changes).

Actually, the etymology of the word crisis goes back to the Greek krisis, meaning “decision.” Homer Simpson faced a turning point that required a decision.

But we are not in Homer’s shoes. Despite rising unemployment, massive layoffs and a stock market that has lost half of its value from its peak, we are not in a crisis. There is no banking crisis, no financial crisis, no economic crisis.

Why not? Because we have no decision to make.

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