Blog Action Day is October 15th and (in my opinion) couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. Not only due to the current circumstances of the United States’ and the World’s economic situation but because October has generally been the month of the year when horrible things have happened to the stock market.
In the news of late, there is a lot of blame going around. Is it the banks’ fault? Is it the mortgage companies’ fault? Is it Washington’s fault? Is it the fault of those who are so greedy or seem to want more than they can possibly afford? Is it just the fault of circumstances beyond our control? Instead of pointing fingers and dismissing any responsibility we, as individuals might have, it’s time to focus on the positive.
We are in a positon now to change our own behavior – to learn from not only our personal history but the history of our forebearers. I didn’t live through the Great Depression of the 1930s, but my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents did. Through their values, actions and stories, I learned many things.
Even after the Depression, my grandparents always kept a stock of items that at one time had been hard to come by or had been rationed during World War II (paper and canned goods). There would be packages upon packages of toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, canned food, dry cleaner bags, re-usable gift wrap, foil, and plastic bags in their closets, pantry and spare bedrooms. To this day there is a box in my mother’s basement that is filled with dry cleaner bags and saved gift wrap. Not only were they stocked up but they were saving money by reusing items instead of disposing of so much that would just clog our landfills (this is a pre-recycling era).
My paternal grandparents lived in Coshocton County, Ohio – close to Appalachia and the mining towns. In fact, my grandfather, Lloyd Amore, some of his brothers and nephews, were miners at one time. How my grandparents managed to feed all of their children during that time, I don’t know. They probably didn’t have too much to begin with other than land, a home, basic necessities, and a will to work hard.
My maternal grandparents were part of the military network. My grandfather, Glen R. Johnson, had begun serving his country during World War I and by 1930 were living in Ohio close to (what was then called) Wright Field (now Wright Patterson Air Force Base). They were able to receive medical treatment and their groceries from the military services. My grandparents tried to live a debt-free life except when it came to buying a home and probably a car which I’m sure came from living through the Great Depression.
My great-grandmother, Martha (Stern) Clawson, moved to Washington State from the Midwest before the Stock Market crash of ’29. She had a garden and there were animals that were slaughtered for meat so they didn’t go hungry.
As I don’t have too much “fleshed out” information about any ancestors that immigrated from Europe, I can only imagine that they moved from their homeland due to economic, religious, and social reasons.
Today, as we watch stocks plummet and listen to the dire news reports, we can all pledge that when we recover as individuals, that we’ll move forward with a goal to better our situation. It’s very unpopular to forego the use of cable, digital TV, or sattelite. What would we watch on the television? Give up the cell phone with all its bells and whistles? What happens if someone needs to get in touch with me? Wait before running out to buy that new appliance, car, electronic toy, or furniture? How will I compete with the Jones’? Buy my groceries using coupons, rebates and shopping guides? Buy clothing or other items from garage sales or resale shops? What will my neighbors think? Hang my clothes out to dry on nice and warm days instead of wasting energy drying them? That takes too much time! Take a vacation somewhere local or at a more frugal destination instead of that cruise or Disney World Family vacation? The kids will be upset!
For one thing – we’ve all lived without a lot of things before. I grew up before cell phones were even around (let alone answering machines!). People called back! We had others on emergency lists in case we couldn’t be reached. We weren’t tied to the office 24 hours a day!
Libraries have DVDs and movies that can be borrowed. When regular shows are in reruns and nothing else is on, we throw in a movie to watch as a family. Better yet – turn the television off (saving energy) and do something as a family – take a walk, ride bikes, play a game, sit outside and enjoy kids being kids!
If your appliance, furniture, etc. isn’t broken, why do you need a new one? Just to keep up with your friends and neighbors? So when they go bankrupt and their properties are foreclosed on, will you also try to keep up with them?
Memories are made by what you do – not the most elaborate vacation in the world. How long do you want to be paying off the credit charges on that once in a lifetime destination?
It’s time we all take responsibility – not only for our own greed and indebtedness that places so many in danger of bankruptcy and foreclosure, but for the solution to get back to the basics. To pull together without playing the blame game. And as our forebearers before us, we can be just as patriotic by pulling together for the good of our country as well as the good of those who will come after us.