A Look at History, To Find Some Solutions

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The most talked about issue on line these days is the financial crises.  Understandably people are concerned, worried, stressed, and depressed.  I have been reading the local paper more than ever lately, and have noticed an interesting trend in the stories. 

They have been publishing a few stories on survivors of the Great Depression.  I have noticed a certain things among the survivors, they are upbeat and positive.  What fascinated me about these people, is their sense of community during those times.  The Great Depression, with out a doubt, was a terrible time in our history.  There was widespread job loss (25.9 percent unemployment) and hunger, people were starving, literally.  So why is it that these survivors reminisce about the wonderful feeling of belonging to a close community.

The close knit community, made up of people who helped each other and fed one another, were the ones that seemingly had the least drastic of effects from the Depression.   They all worked together, some had gardens, and grew produce for themselves and their neighbors.   Others raised stock, pigs, cattle, and goats that they shared with neighbors.  Nearly all of the survivors remembered going to a neighbors hose to get raw milk and cheese that would be consumed by the whole community.  They leaned on each other, helped out those who had physical disabilities, and loved their families.  

I suppose, that if we are to take anything from these articles, it is the need for people to get to know their community.  Something that has been missing for a long time, is the tight knit community of old.  How often has your neighborhood had a get together, just to get to know each other and keep up with the happenings in every ones life.  Find the strengths and weaknesses of your neighbors, and let them know what you can do.  Don’t be afraid to talk with them and offer to help when you can.  Pulling together as a community and family, may very well be the answer to the tough times that may be just around the corner.

Soul Meets World had a very good post about the current economical fall out, and how it related to the Great Depression era, The Crashing and Burning of the Economy.   She had some very interesting facts in this post, and I enjoyed reading it.   Lilly’s Life  also wrote a very good article this weekend about our current crises, When Did Personal Responsibility Die.  The article is based on the fact that we all most likely had a part in bringing about this crises, not just the big wigs.  But most importantly, she started a comment thread with some very interesting and helpful tips to save money.

The blogosphere, is a community in its own right.  We each have our smaller community of friends and family that we visit regularly. I’m thinking we all need to blog the crises, and examine all the causes.  Come up with useful ways for everyone to save money, and help each other.  We have a voice,  a voice that gets more attention than many of us realize.  There are things we can do, we just have to figure out what they are. 

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AngelBaby said...

Community is so important. We need to get to know our neighbors and become more involved in our neighborhoods not because of the economy but for a better world. If we do this on a regular basis then when times get tough we can depend on each other because we will be more like family.

Love and Blessings,

Lilly's Life said...

Thanks Eric for this interesting post. Life was different and people shared what they had and bartered what they grew and made. They helped one another. My Dad was on the land and he seems to recall a much easier life as a result because they could live off the land as they always had. My mother though was in the city and I think they had it harder. I am doing a Lillys Bits post on Saturday and I will inlude a link to this post because it fits in with what I was going to briefly mention. I am going to do a list up of the suggestions people have come up with and put in some form of document so people can just down load - giving credit to the bloggers who suggested the ideas. Excellent writing as per usual and this would be a worthy article in your local paper!

maggie's mind said...

Great post, and it makes me think how odd it is that growing up I knew lots of people on our street, and the past several years, I don't really know any of my neighbors. Partly, times are different, and people are different, I think, but community is important and can make all the difference. Times are very scary right now, and I hope we never have to be in as bad of a situation as those before us.

The Grandpa said...

Excellent post, Eric. I like the way you share what you find in the blogosphere. It's community building.

Some of your readers might be interested in Blog Actionn Day. It's October 15. The focus is poverty. The URL where they can find out more is blogactionday.org.

rocksnowhite said...

the "not knowing your community members" is specific to very big and somewhat western communities and it's understandable. sadly, the same trend seems to be prevailing in smaller comunities as well. i loved your post as it shows that humaknind is actually shallow: we prefer to get to a point where everytihing is lost (big depression, today's economy crisis, wars, 9/11) to turn towards one another, rather then preventing moments like this to happen. have we become so busy that we notice one another only in times of distress?

Alexys Fairfield said...

Hi Eric,
Excellent post. Remember when we just "read" about the great depression, now we may be living it again? Interesting how history repeats. The blogosphere is a nice ride into the mind of great thinkers.

Btw, thanks for the link.

Vixen said...

Great post Eric. The blogging community, as I have mentioned many times, has been a virtual life saver for me. I grew up in one of those neighborhoods where we all knew each other very well and supported each other. It has been a hard adjustment for me now that much of society is not like that anymore.

Eric S. said...

@ AngelBaby, yea we do, unfortunately many folks are afraid, and unwilling to introduce themselves. I agree it would make the difficult times much easier. It seems like the only time people start pulling together is during a disaster or crises.

@ Lilly, Times were different indeed. Yes the people in the cities had it much worse. Country folk were more community oriented to begin with. I'll be watching your posts, the list is a good idea. Thank you.

@ Maggie, I agree, and have said for years that we should be more community oriented. It would have helped with a lot of problems. Half the problem is publicity about neighborhood disputes gone wrong. It scares people. Times have changed, but perhaps this is the stimulus to start the community spirit back up.

@ The Grandpa, Thanks, Yes I saw that on bloggers unite, and was considering doing a post.

@ Rocksnowhite, I agree, we would all be much better off if we didn't wait until disaster hit. A tight knit community can be so proactive, and solve many problems on their own. Crime prevention comes to mind right away.

@ Alexys Fairfield, Thank you very much. I enjoyed your article, it was very informative. I learned a few things I had not known before. Yes history does repeat itself all to often, I wish we would learn to pay more attention. I agree , the blogosphere is full of great thinkers.

@ Vixen, I know, your blogging community is a very close knit, and willing to give support and friendship. We need to spread that spirit a little. Yes society has changed, but I firmly believe that a solid community spirit can change it for the better.

Jena Isle said...

H Eric,

You have a wonderful idea. I hope everyone would get to read this. Indeed, unity, cooperation and sharing are good virtues that should be developed if a community has to survive.

Kudos too to Alexys and Lilly.

June Saville said...

I do so agree with your sentiments Eric. High fences between houses should be banned!
My Dad went through the Depression (yes I'm as old as that) and he was a bitter man. I think his demeanour resulted from the attitude of his own father who lost his money when the banks failed and sent his son from home to fend for himself. I don't know the rights and wrongs of this as so much of the devil is in the detail, but Dad felt abandoned. He spent the years moving around the countryside on what they called the Susso - an allowance that wasn't enough to sustain such people, and very hard to get anyway. You had to wander from town to town to get this - a fine way to make sure people didn't congregate together and maybe get some positive action going.
Dad trapped rabbits when he could to eat the flesh and sell the pelts.
Mum and Dad married in 1935 and I was born in 1936 when the Depression was ending - another mouth to feed.
If the government had only allowed the establishment of stable community things could have been better for them.
Thanks for your empathy and sensitivity Eric.
June in Oz

tashabud said...

Hello Eric,
I love this post. Having some sort of a community belonging is a very good idea. But most people nowadays are so preoccupied with their own lives that this kind of bonding is lost. In my neighborhood, we have get-togethers at least twice a year. One in the summer and one around Christmas or New Year's time where my friend and neighbor Mary Sue and I cohost. Summers at their house and Winters at our house. We provide the bulk of the food, but others also bring a dish to share. It really is a great way to know neighbors and to stay connected.

Thanks for posting this to energize all of us to come together, not just on bad times, but on good times as well.


Kel said...

Humankind are funny things. The socio/political dynamics of the last half of the 20th century set the stage for the lonely times in which we live now.

Hmmm . . . I had to pause there a moment, because I'm not sure "lonely" is quite the right word. Its true that many of us no longer live in the small-town, or farm, communities with many extended family members and life-long friends and associates living within walking distance.

But I'm not sure that we have lost our sense of (or need for) community. Perhaps we've reshaped what "community" is for us. Either I have had tremendous luck down through the years with my employers and fellow employees, or perhaps I have lived a new community paradigm.

The Denver Center Theatre Company, Coldwell Banker Commercial, and now PSI have all been places of community for me. I have made life-long friends at each, shared the trials and travails of co-workers. And particularly with PSI, have been blessed to form a few exceptional friendships.

I have also received tremendous support from the company and my co-workers in times of need. And given my full blessing and participation within that community when someone else needed shelter, or time away, or just an ear, hug, and kleenex.

We have in the last five years, at PSI, experienced the deep sadness of having lost two fine fellows, both quite young really, to the ravages of cancer. Both had families, with kids in high-school. PSI has sponsored trust funds for both families for the kids college educations, and we have christmas drives each year to pool resources and place more money into them.

And when a young engineer developed a particularly agressive form of MS, and had to leave active work very early, PSI kept him on its health plan so that he would have care continually until he lost the battle with the MS. This meant that we folk at PSI, as a whole, paid significantly higher health premiums during those years, but I never heard anyone complain. And many of us kept as actively involved with him as possible until the end.

This, to me, is as much community as anything I remember from the small-town years in Fairplay.


June Saville has me intrigued with her suggestion that the establishment of the Susso may have been an intentioned manipulation of the population to prevent uprising. I have never spent much direct study of that period . . . sounds like that may change.

Liara Covert said...

When you view the world as a perceiver, you may adopt the perspective of a helpless victim who feels controlled by fear and uncertainty. Alternatively, as you focus on exploring your creative energy, you begin to discover your awareness of your current abilities is only the tip of the iceberg. A human being chooses to see a situation as a problem if he opens himself to doubt. Since one of the few predictable experiences in this world is change, it makes sense to reflect on how this latest societal transition could be viewed as a step in a positive evolution for humanity. After all, if greed has contributed to the perceived crises, then something different and I would bet, better, is coming along to replace it. Some things do not require explanation. You need remind yourself of the power of faith and trust.

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

This is an important post, I am going to link to it because its inspired me to write about my mom and her family during the "Great Depression". What you wrote about community is so true and very sad that so few (at least where I live) even know there neighbors.

June Saville said...

May I have another two pennyworth please?
I wrote about my Dad (see above) and got caught up in memories.
Very soon after I left your blog Eric I squared my shoulders and thought that my attitude could have been better. I'm one for facing reality, but at the same time I do believe we must act positively within any circumstance.
Doomsayers will wallow, as you say Eric. Better to apply our WILL to pull together, using our abilities to make the best of a problematic time, with the common good as our central goal.
We need a new reality.

pamibe said...

Excellent post, Eric. While it's true that community isn't what it used to be, the virtual community is thriving.

For a sense of community off-line to flourish, there will need to be a disaster or another depression. People always band together and help each other during times of trouble; it's who we are.

I've experienced after hurricanes and it renews my faith in humanity.

Eric S. said...

@ Jena, Yea I think the basics of community have been missing for some time. But it's nothing that can't be changed.

@ June, yes indeed, lets ban high fences. There's an old saying, fences make for pleasant neighbors. I don't think it meant high fences though.

My step father was alive during the depression, and it made a significant impact on his life and how he reacted to things we did. I can remember plenty of lectures on the value of food, and how we should always be thankful for what we have. I don't think he was part of the SUSSO. I imagine it was harder on your father dealing with his parents abandoning him than anything else. Times were dam sure tough, and many things happened that I pray would never happen these days.

I love that, "squared my shoulders and thought my attitude could have been better" LOL, I saw nothing wrong with your attitude, and did not take it in a negative way. I believe it's important to remember the things that were not such good ideas from that time, and hopefully prevent them from happening again. Yes we all need to apply our will, pool our resources (physical, mental) and push forward for the common good.

@ Tasha, Yes a sense of belonging is very important. There was a study some time ago that said the strong raise in inner city gang membership was due to a "lacking a sense of belonging". It was pointed more at parents, but could just as easily apply to a community. I love that you have get together for our community, and even host them yourself. You are such a good person, and yes your right it would be a great way to get to know your neighbors and find out what is affecting them in their lives.

@ Kel, Yes we are. You may be right, our individual definition of community may have been changed. A close knit working community is a wonderful thing, but there is more to life than work (said the ultimate workaholic). PSI sounds like a world class workplace, and I'm impressed at their compassion for their employee's. More companies should take note, and perhaps we would not be in the crises we are now.

Yes June make a point that things could have been done differently. I wondered too if it was an attempt to prevent an uprising, but in the end I just think it was a mistake by the government.

@ Liara, your comments are always very poignant and philosophical and most certainly welcome. You are so right, perceptions can be adopted, and we need to make sure we view the world through clear eyes. Doubt is the devil of all feelings, and easier to avoid that to get recover from. I hope I never sound like a victim.

I agree, perhaps the lates "crises" will make a change, and bring forth a positive evolution. We need to step away from the never ending search for wealth, and focus on the greater good of mankind. Yes indeed, faith and trust are very important and powerful.

@ Barbara, Thank you, I am looking forward to your writing of your family. It is so sad that many areas do not have the community feel anymore, but it can change.

@ Pamibe, Thank you. I hope for a time that the sense of community will be ever present. Then when disasters strike, or a crises befalls us we will be better prepared to deal with them. I think we rely too heavily on the government to step in, and need to make some changes ourselves. Perhaps the idea of personal responsibility, and community responsibility should be promoted.

Yes it is very refreshing to see the communities come together after disasters. I seen it myself during and after the fires in Colorado a few years back.

soulMerlin said...

It does seem sad that the times when people begin again to connect with their community, is during war or recession - the two often go hand in hand.

Humanity seems to need a common threat, to come together

I find people are much more selfish today than when I was a boy in the 50's

you raise some really important points..


Eric S. said...

Henry your right, it's is a sad thing indeed. To think that it takes a disaster, or crises for people to come together. Things would be so much better if it we just got together and worked through things to begin with. I think many of the problems these days could be solved proactively.

Yes I think people are more selfish these days also. It's an unfortunate thing.

Kel said...

I vote for June Saville's "New Reality."

So mote it be.

Eric S. said...

Yes, Yes indeed so mote it be

Mark Antony said...

There's a number of highly paid financers (who played a major part in starting this economic chaos) walked into a healthy economic climate in the last 12 years or so, and never really known anything else other then low inflation, bull markets and growth targets. And I wonder if these people know how to deal with economic downturns, it's an aspect of economics they have not yet encountered, some of them.

Far from remembering or learning about the depression, it's been a long gravy train for some of them, but they are going to have to start learning soon enough, because hard times are coming to many people, for others they are already here.

Good analogy Eric.

Eric S. said...

Hi Mark, Nice to meet you. I know they will be feeling the pain, but I don't think they will feel it as bad as the little guy. I think your right, and bad times are a coming. also think though that we can prepare ourselves and our communities for it, and be far better off.

I doubt seriously those overpaid Gentlemen will have much of a community to fall back on. I would wager that they won't try to be part of any community in fear of losing their questionably earned money.

Thanks for the visit, and feel free to return anytime. Just come on in and make yourself at home.


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