Mired in the worst economic slump since the Great Depression, with no likelihood of a turnaround for several years -- especially considering the endless political gridlock in Washington -- most adult Americans would have reason to feel as down as the economic numbers.
But there is one thing we look forward to this time of year -- the return of students to college campuses, high schools and elementary schools -- which can always produce a smile and a sense of "maybe it's not so bad."
College students have good reason to seem ebullient amid recessionary times; they can avoid the harsh American job market for that much longer. Indeed, graduate schools seem now to be swelling with young people -- and some not so young -- who are not only honing their skills and accumulating greater knowledge but putting off that job search for a couple more years.
Those students at the secondary level are not likely worrying about their job prospects and that is a good thing as well. Most of them, despite the time-honored grumbling about returning from summer vacation, do seem excited to be back at school. They should, in fact, savor these moments -- but of course won't, not until they've been out of academia for a number of years.
But at some point, the image of being a student, for all the pressures and battles with teen or young adult insecurities, will, for most, become a positive one. It will become a long chapter in every life and those of peers, and very often be considered the best of times.
That's why watching them charging back to the campuses and classrooms, mostly eager and overwhelmingly idealistic compared to their parents, is good for the entire community.