My parents lived through the Great Depression and told stories of their struggles that were hard to imagine. My dad wore the soles out of his shoes and stuffed cardboard in them to make do. He once waited in line an entire day for a job with one opening. He did not get the job.
People saved string and wound it up in a ball. Peddlers sold apples on carts and warmed themselves around the fires burning in steel containers on street corners. Many were homeless. Beggars would knock on doors for food. Women worked in factories under stress and unsafe settings. Conditions were harsh. They struggled. They were grateful for what little they had.
Once again, these are difficult times. This was not supposed to happen. I have lived my life in middle-class comfort, in a profession, paying my bills, dining out, having a few luxuries and frequenting nice stores – until recently. Not placing much faith in government, I nonetheless felt reassured the government had enough checks and balances that we would be shielded from a total meltdown, a crash, a great recession – like now.
Unprepared as I was for this, I am alive and eating. I live in an 80-year-old, drafty home and drive a 20-year-old truck that gets me from one place to the next and back. The song “A Country Boy Can Survive,” keeps running through my head. I wake up each morning with a song in my heart and a prayer of gratitude on my lips.
What I have noticed, is this economy has caused a number of people to take stock in what is important. My 23-year-old son lives with me. I enjoy his company and I am delighted to watch him grow. Last year we planted a garden and are now enjoying its many benefits, for which we are grateful. We cook together, shop at thrift stores, make due and laugh about it. For that, I am grateful.
Families are becoming closer. People are helping one another. People are giving to one another and seemingly to care more about one another than material things. I sense people, myself included, are becoming closer to God. For me, it is not so much “I want,” rather, “I am grateful for what I have.”
Where this goes, what direction we take, and what will happen to those people – casualties of the economy – now jobless and homeless, I do care. I do not need or want all the “stuff” I have accumulated. I give away what I am not wearing or using to a shelter. What food I can spare goes to a hungry family.
I pray the direction we take will include everyone from now on, realizing that any one of us, at any time, is just as vulnerable.
Source: “A Country Boy Can Survive,” Hank Williams, Jr.