Friday, December 19, 2008

SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN

Written By D.

My mother grew up during the depression. I won’t call it the “Great Depression” because depressions aren’t so great to the people who live through them.

Mom always told me that she never knew anything but the depression until she reached adulthood and WWII happened. As with most anyone who had a parent that lived on the poor end of the depression the tales of poverty abound. My Mom had it better than some because she lived on a farm and they could grow their own food. My grandfather also hunted, so they could get meat and they had a cow for milk. But still, it was no picnic. There were ten children to feed and clothe. Yes, they walked miles to a one room schoolhouse, wore hand me downs and slept at night in a room without heat, using hot bricks under the covers to keep them warm.

My mother was a dye in the wool FDR Democrat. Her father was President of the local Democrat Club. She told me they really believed in FDR almost to the point of worship. They thought he was helping them get out of the depression with all his “three letter” programs.

Looking at it from her point of view and vulnerable station in life and having studied this period of time in our history extensively, I can honestly see how her family believed in FDR. They needed to believe in him because they needed to believe things would get better. His sunny disposition and cocky self-confidence must have had a very calming effect for people living on the edge of survival.

She gave up the Democrat party long ago in young adulthood. But I have always teased her about it, calling her the family liberal, because you could still detect the FDR indoctrination in her opinions. Theirs was a whole generation of Democrats raised on FDR’s socialistic policies and that is hard to shrug off.

My mother recently told me she thinks we are heading into another depression. She said this is how it starts and it only gets worse. But this time she thinks “FDR like” government intervention is a really bad idea and will only prolong the problem because she realizes now that FDR was wrong. That is the first time I ever heard her criticize FDR.

Now to the other extreme; my daughter, privately schooled, very highly educated at the top colleges in the country , who never suffered a day of want in her entire happy life and raised as a conservative Republican, told me the other day that she and her highly educated friends have discussed the matter and believe things are not so bad and will turn around in a year or two.
Now here I am, stuck in the middle of two generations of women. My rural childhood is actually more closely related and identified with that of my mother, without her poverty. My adulthood is more closely related to that of my daughter, without her self-confidence.

After hearing their opinions, I began to think why were they so different in their conclusions about the economy? Could it be by virtue of education? Could it be that the young are just more optimistic than the old? Could it be that our opinions are truly based on our life experience, so that those who have suffered will always believe more suffering is to come and those who have never suffered cannot imagine it happening? Could it be that the young are whistling in the dark but those who have seen the dark do not fear it, and so can more easily accept it and adjust their eyes to the darkness?

I don’t know the answer. I have mixed emotions about what will happen and maybe because I am stuck in the middle I believe what will happen will not be as terrible as my mother thinks and not as good as my daughter thinks.

But I definitely believe there will be a whole generation of the “vulnerable” people, not unlike the Democrats of my mother’s generation, who will look for someone to believe in and who will blindly embrace socialistic programs. It won’t be as a result of reading and embracing Marx, it will be to seek security in their lives, looking to the government as a father figure. They will not even realize they have become socialists. And even if they move to the right later in life, they will never quite be able to entirely shake off these beliefs. The socialism of Wilson and FDR is still with us and our country appears to be headed further down that road. Unfortunately, this time, I think it will be at the expense of freedom.

Maybe that is why the socialists see this economic disaster as their opportunity.

I never forget what Whittaker Chambers told us in his book; “Witness”

“Sooner or later, one of my good friends is sure to ask me; How did it happen that a man like you became a Communist? Each time I wince, not at the personal question, but at the failure to grasp the fact that a man does not, as a rule, become a Communist because he is attracted to Communism, but because he is driven to despair by the crisis of history through which the world is passing.”

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