When you have a young son and another one is one the way, news stories about
a possible repeat of the “Great Depression” can be unsettling. This morning, I
spent some time reading up on the first depression to get a better understanding
of just how unsettled I should be. As I read, I wasn’t as taken by the quality
of life that existed in the depression era as I was by the way of life that led
up to it.
The online version of the Encarta encyclopedia said the following about what
caused the depression:
It is a common misconception that the stock market crash of October 1929
was the cause of the Great Depression. The two events were closely related, but
both were the results of deep problems in the modern economy that were building
up through the “prosperity decade” of the 1920s.
As is typical of post-war periods, Americans in the Roaring Twenties
turned inward, away from international issues and social concerns and toward
greater individualism. The emphasis was on getting rich and enjoying new fads,
new inventions, and new ideas. The traditional values of rural America were
being challenged by the city-oriented Jazz Age, symbolized by what many
considered the shocking behavior of young women who wore short skirts and
makeup, smoked, and drank.
I reflected on this and decided, you know, that sounds very much like today.
Many Americans, including myself, have lived in a time where we purchased what
we wanted, not what we needed or more importantly, what we could afford. At the
risk of repeating myself, I don’t see the division of wealth in this country as
an economical problem, but more an attitude problem. If those who have, no
matter how much they have, would look outward instead of inward, it wouldn’t
really matter who had what.
So when I listen to remedies as drastic as the 700 billion dollar bailout
being debated today, I just shake my head. To listen to two very partisan sides
bicker about solutions that won’t begin to touch the problem, in reality a
bailout will only encourage more of the same, is very discouraging. And to then
use the crisis as another in a long line of the cheap campaign moves of the past
year, both sides, that’s enough in itself to declare the country at least mildly
Katie asked me the other night if I thought there’d be a depression. I said
I don’t care. I guess that was a bit oversimplified. What I mean is our boys
are too young to realize what all they have to grieve too long over what they’d
lose. Elliott is most attached to mommy and daddy time right now, and Ian will
soon join him, and as long as they have that there will still be cause for
smiles. When I read about the depression, I read about hard times. But most
historians recall it as a period of great family unity. I’ve referred to the
“Waltons” before, a show set in the depression era. I recall the Waltons having
difficult times, but I recall them being a pretty cool family. (The show was
actually written by a Virginia man who grew up as a child in the twenties and
wrote about his family memories of that period).
It comes down to one core belief I suppose. If you have the belief that God
is the ultimate provider, and believe he always has and always will provide what
we need, then yes, I’m not wishing for a depression, but I’m not necessarily
afraid of one either.