Conservative Beliefs: Staying Strong, Part 2

by CJFosdick on January 8, 2009

Classic photo of a distress sale -- Great Depr...
Image by onohoku via Flickr

Part 1 shows the physical aspects of life in the Depression, but the attitudes, the fears, and hopes of people of this time are also different. Most children then were drilled in principles of honesty, integrity, and character as they grew. Mothers and fathers taught the value of hard work and individual responsibility. Family members were held accountable for their actions. In our society today it is extremely hard to hold people, especially school children, accountable for their actions.

People then relied on themselves using their own ingenuity and creativity to hold things together. Today, most people hire someone to do the repairs on vehicles, equipment, and to provide services. In some affluent sections of the country, mothers even hire someone to give birthday parties to their kids costing several thousands of dollars. They hire someone to put up their Christmas lights and wrap their presents. They throw away repairable goods and buy new. There is nothing wrong with this; it just shows how affluent our society has become. However, more and more people today are taking shoes to cobblers and vehicles to repair shops, rather than buying new. Part of the juggling of wants vs. needs!
Fear was the most pervasive emotion during the Depression—an ongoing, gut-wrenching fear. Even if people did not lose jobs themselves, even if they did not feel hunger or want, most Americans were terrified of having the grinding poverty of that time happen to them. Fear was the great leveler then. It haunted people from every walk of life, while job security became the overriding passion of the American workforce. One report told of fifty able-bodied men fighting over a barrel of garbage set out by the restaurant as waste. Such scenes left those still with jobs visual images that stalked their lives and let them know what might happen to them. When the Depression finally ended and the lives of average people grew better, they still were motivated by fear, a fear that never completely lifted from the people of the Depression, because they knew hard times could happen again.

Fear is rising in today’s America — fear of spiraling prices, of losing one’s house or job, fear of immigration out of control, and the escalating health care and education costs. In the face of this fear, it is hard to stay hopeful and believe in a better tomorrow, but this is what people in the Depression did. Kept the hope of a better tomorrow. We today must also keep hope alive of a better tomorrow, a better America for our youth.

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