My father in law has been in my thoughts lately. Born in 1903, he came of age during the Great Depression, and that event shaped his character. He repeatedly told the story of going to his bank in Chicago one morning to find the doors locked and a sign saying “Out of Business” on the window. His life savings completely gone, hopes of buying back his family farm disappeared. His life and his outlook were forever changed. He became pessimistic, fearful, and unable to enjoy anything. He never trusted banks again, and took to hiding large sums of cash in strange places -we’ve found money wrapped in tinfoil and hidden under the ceiling tiles in the basement.
Although he wasn’t formally educated, having left school in the eighth grade, he was a deep thinker on many levels. But his extreme conservatism, both politically and religiously, made for some very unpleasant dinner table conversation. Truthfully, he most often made all of us miserable with his bombastic approach and hard core didacticism. So, as is the way of youth, we generally discounted everything he said simply because of the way he said it.
But I’ve been thinking about some of the “predictions” he made as far back as the 1980’s…that globalization would be the “death of America,” that the media would one day “control the country,” that a world currency would be “disastrous,” and credit was “evil.” That banks and financial institutions, particularly the stock market, were “not to be trusted.”
I’m rather glad he’s not here right now, because I’m quite sure he’d be saying “I told you so” – over and over.
In the past couple of decades it seems we’ve all been focused on the future- on advancing technology, global entrepreneurship, and increasing personal wealth – that perhaps we’ve forgotten the lessons of the past. We need to correct the excesses that have led us to this point – we need to return to values of honest work for decent pay, and we must return jobs to America so our citizens may reap the benefits of their labor
But just as importantly, we must overcome our feelings of fear and helplessness and look for practical ways to improve this situation. It feels to me right now as if the world is collectively frozen like the proverbial deer in the headlights, standing stock still and helpless, not knowing which way to turn. I don’t know about you, but I’m trying to jump back from the road into the relative safety of the woods while I reconnoiter and make a new plan of action.
Although it probably wouldn’t hurt to take some cash and hide it in the ceiling.
What do you think? Has your action plan changed? Any ideas for things the average American can do to help alleviate the current situation?