Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday Thinking--Black Thursday

Grandpa Hoops
(first generation American)

I’ve been thinking about how today is the 80th anniversary of the infamous stock market crash of 1929 which plunged America into the Great Depression.

Society rode high through the roaring 20’s even though there had been a humbling world war and deadly world-wide flu epidemic (killing between 50-100 million people) ten years earlier. The decade of the ‘20’s was one of excessive spending, speculation and waste. Arrrrghhhhh. It all just sounds so familiar. I recognize those things now . . .

When I was younger I suppose I felt like most—invincible. It’s a merciful thing really for youth to have that kind of confidence to launch them into adulthood, but it can also deafen them to danger warnings. First the Revolutionary War, then eighty years later the Civil War, then eighty years later the Great Depression and World War II—those were all things that had happened long before in areas far away from me, so I had no fear of them repeating themselves in my early adulthood. I was invincible and so was my country. History had taught us powerful lessons in those events; we wouldn’t be repeating them I thought. That’s why I couldn’t understand why my grandfather (born in 1899) was so adamant that his grandchildren write a paper on The Free Enterprise System when we were 29 years old. The communist countries in Eastern Europe were going through revolutionary changes when I was 29, no one would be foolish enough to sell out capitalism for socialism or communism after seeing what those countries had endured. But Grandpa offered $1,000 for the essay and so I wrote it.

Grandpa had lived long enough to know that history is cyclical. It was his job to warn his invincible-feeling generations beneath him that “each time history repeats itself, the price goes up” for someday we would realize we were vulnerable like everyone else.

A fascinating book on the history of America, The Fourth Turning, points out very clearly that every eighty years or so America goes through major turmoil to get her footing. We’re eighty years since our last big national crises. After listening to the news, reading the newspapers and reports, and hearing the cries against freedom, capitalism and the free enterprise system . . . I understand Grandpa perfectly now. And that’s what I’ve been thinking . . . well, that and what I need to do about what I've been thinking.

7 comments:

Heather @ Multiple Hats said...

Good observation, my Neighbor Jane. It's got me thinking, that's for sure . . .

Cali said...

That was some deep thinking. It has me thinking deep. So deep that I'm having a hard time coming up with a comment, other than, "hmmmmmmmmmmm." I think everyone else is feeling the same way. I can't wait to go on a walk with you next weekend... and have this conversation.

Cali

Tiffany Fackrell said...

I agree with cali...hmmmmmm.

sorry, that's all i got!

Emma J said...

I think you're right - interesting, huh?

I guess the good thing is that (so far) our country has learned and grown from those pivotal turnings and been able to launch out into exciting areas of progress and broadened and made our democracy more just after each of those hard times.

We just have to do our part now, learning the right lessons and keeping our eye on the real ideals of our country. I love America's ability to reinvent itself, our ability to stumble and get back up - I think we can do it now, too.

Mindy said...

Reading about how we prosper and then go through something incredible like war and a bad economy made me think of the Book of Mormon. There are examples of that in there as well. A hard lesson for society to learn, scary!!!

ShelleyG said...

Great post Jane! When you say it the way you did,, the Civil and even Revolutionary Wars seem like they weren't all that long ago. Interesting.

I hope our country will quickly learn it's lesson and get it together. It boggles my mind that capitalism is a bad word in so many circles. It is freedom and the ability that freedom gives us to follow God that makes a country prosper. God Bless America! :)

michelle said...

Wow. Wow. Very interesting thoughts here. Your grandfather was a wise man to make that challenge! Every 80 years, huh? Scary.