Lessons from the great depression

Dad was born in Roundup Montana in nineteen ten. On
“Black Tuesday” October twenty ninth, nineteen twenty
nine he was just out of high school.

When the stock market crashed and the worst
depression of the twentieth century really took hold,
banks failed, businesses closed their doors,
unemployment went through the roof. Masses of people
in many countries went from comfortable to desperate.
Bread lines and suicides became routine.

For the next few years jobs were scarce everywhere but
just about non-existent in Roundup. Like many others
Dad left to look for greener pastures. His sister ended up
waiting tables in Los Angeles, and he landed on an
assembly line in Detroit. They saw each other maybe
three times over the next sixty years.

Once they got paychecks coming in they held onto those
jobs for dear life. They wouldn’t even consider disturbing
their employment. Forty years later they were both still
at it.

Some economists said the depression was over after a
couple of years. Others looked at the same information
and said it lasted for eight to ten years. What they said
was meaningless to a large percentage of the population.
Going hungry separates truth from guesswork.

Statistics on industrial production, stock market levels
and the like don’t replace the fear. No amount of rhetoric
removes the memories. Like drivers who witness or
experience a bad crash and are changed. Seeing in real
time how quickly misery, death and destruction can
happen isn’t forgotten.

Terrible events raise many questions. What caused
them? Can we prevent them? Can we prepare for them?
How? If we can’t control them how do we survive
them?

We need answers and we don’t get them while focusing
on crying and feeling sorry for ourselves. We can be sad
while thinking and acting. Fear and sadness are normal
but not paralyzing. Events may be out of our control but
how we deal with them is not.

Being hurt physically, mentally or financially can and
will happen from time to time but there are millions of
examples of overcoming and adjusting to get life back
to reasonable. Success starts with accepting truth but
rejecting despair.

Attitude and effort don’t eliminate fear but they get
your mind off of it and focused on progress. There is
never nothing we can do to change life. We have now,
today and are in charge of what we do with it. Even
baby steps get us going.

The event that hurts us may eventually trigger a better
life than we thought possible. At the very least we can
discover the amazing strengths in all of us and the
confidence that comes with it.

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Ken