When I was 7, I had a football coach who was hard as nails. He worked us like we played in the National Football League.
Most of our time was spent doing situps and pushups and tummy-crunchers (that's what I called them) and jumping jacks.
He "exercized" us for an hour before practice and an hour after practice.
I can no longer remember running plays in practices, but I will always remember the comments he made while we were on our backs with our legs stretched out six inches above the ground.
"Suck it up!" he would say. "If it hurts, good! It's supposed to hurt. If you worked harder to keep yourself in shape away from practice, it wouldn't hurt so much!"
He wasn't a screamer. Some coaches think yelling is the only way to be heard.
Not Coach Kirk. You could barely hear what he was saying.
Sometimes he would bend down and whisper something through the ear hole in your helmet. Many times, he would just look at you, and you knew you weren't doing something right.
I've been thinking about Coach Kirk lately as I watch the stock market plummet. Instead of giving them a bailout, he would have told these company CEOs to "Suck it up! If it hurts, good. It should hurt. If you had worked harder to protect your company from stupid investments, it wouldn't hurt so much!"
I suspect he would say the same thing to me and to all Americans who have been living beyond their means for the past 10 or 15 years.
"You've got no one to blame. You knew you couldn't afford that house, especially with all the other crap you've bought on credit.
"When one credit card was filled, you got another, and another, and another, thinking all the time that someone would bail you out if you got in over your head.
"Well, I've got a newsflash for you, Mister. No one is going to help you out of your mess. You're not AIG, buster.
"You got yourself into this mess, now you must suck it up and struggle, and struggle some more, and pull yourself out.
"There are no easy solutions. If it hurts, good. It's supposed to hurt. You had your fun. Now, quit your whining, suck it up, and get moving!"
Once he got you to quit feeling sorry for yourself, Coach Kirk would build up your confidence by pointing out your past achievements.
"Remember when you hit that running back behind the line? How did that feel? Pretty good, huh? You've got everything you need to succeed, remember that."
And we did succeed.
We won most of our games that year, and most of the ones the next year, capturing the title of Missouri State Champions in our age group.
Wall Street and most Americans would benefit from hearing a few well-chosen words from Coach Kirk. We truly do have everything we need to succeed.
Now is not the time to whine or to blame.
Now is the time to suck it up!