The Great Expression

If there ever was a generation bent on making lemonade from lemons, we are it. It has been said that our current economy is paralleled only by that of The Great Depression in the early 1930’s. When studying that era, it is clear that they faced many challenges we know nothing about (no welfare system, no credit cards, no unemployment checks). We cannot relate to the prospect of starvation, or the lack of any means to obtain clothing or food to meet our basic needs. Yet we can relate to the temptation of hopelessness, the scarcity of work, the pressure to simply survive instead of thriving. While “times are hard” for us like they were for those before us, there is a spirit that stands out among us that simply wasn’t there in the past.

While the tried and true virtues of resourcefulness and frugality have emerged once more, they are accompanied by an attitude that smiles in the face of adversity. When the markets crashed and unemployment went up eighty years ago, there was an overall somberness expressed from coast to coast. Dark colors were worn, dark expressions were worn, dark letters were written. People worried. People had no hope.

Because of many systems put in place in the aftermath of the Great Depression to protect future generations in the midst of struggle, we feel the freedom to take risks and “try, try again” when the opposition seems overwhelming. Our generation experiences many of the same troubles, albeit not as severe, but we have made a glorious game out of buckling down and shaping up. We have not cried over spilled milk, but built a thriving culture in spite of our financial restraints. Vintage items have come into fashion. Bright colors are worn as if to say, “Money isn’t everything…we still have our joy.” The recycling and reuse of day to day items are more popular than ever. People are turning to dinner parties rather than eating out all the time.

These options are not only saving us money, but are turning our generation into a relational one. A creative one. A generation that will be remembered for something other than being broke.

While we are spending less and our material luxuries have decreased, we are not enjoying life any less. Our appreciation for simplicity has soared, and our spirit is as strong as ever. We have learned a valuable lesson from the past—not one merely of economy, but of life, truth, and the will to overcome. It is amazing what a strong spirit can get you through. Part of our freedom in pursuing all that life offers is due to the sacrifices and hardships of those who lived through the Great Depression. May we remember that, and seek to pass on our strength and hope to future generations.

 

Photo credit: http://nothing-elegant.blogspot.com/2008/09/dust-bowl-dress.html http://alltheprettybirds.blogspot.com/

Abigail is a history student, aspiring writer, and reader of large stacks of books. She lives in Los Angeles and still believes in wonder and imagination.

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