The Second Depression and Marks of Discipleship

History repeats itself. It only does if no one learns from the past. Ignoring it does not help anyone, but living as if time were frozen helps no one, either. About every 70 years or so, cycles repeat. In thinking of the Great Depression of the 1930’s, we are going through a similar crisis. As of 2008, the American economy had its initial collapse. Although at the time it didn’t fully hit everyone, it has had enough repercussions to affect the entire country, and now to affect the world markets as the American economy in total shrank this past quarter. And this was Christmastime, the typical savior of the GDP on a yearly basis.

2012 and 1934 are not that far apart. Instead of going into a war to relieve the burdens of economic disparity, we are removing from two wars. There is almost no evidence that says that America will be out of foreign entanglements any time soon, though. Since the American Civil War, there has been a war somewhere on the earth at any given time. The wars continue to increase. The economy limps as if a crawling wounded beast whose body is trying to repair itself even as the crawling further scars and hurts. Not pretty imagery, it’s not a pretty time.

However the parallels intersect between the First Depression and the Second Depression, this seems like a time for re-fashioning phrases. When the first World War happened, everyone called it the Great War. There was no thought that anyone could or would ever allow anything that horrible to happen again. Well, given the next generation and history recycled itself even as there was a crippled economy and no relief in sight besides charismatic politicians who offered a restorative structure to a former glorious empire. As it is, radio stations now play ’90’s music, heralding back to when things were a little less care-worn and back when life was much simpler. Call it the re-invention of a glorious empire when America was on top, when prices were lower, and when there was not the loss of innocence that 9/11 engendered in similar fashion to shooting Kennedy.

My grandparents might have known what to do with this sort of situation, but they’re all dead. Part of the 70-year cycle, we repeat what we do not remember. We do not remember it because the memory keepers are either not alive, or modern society dismisses their records in the fragile state of pompous mind that comes when the people forget their heritage. There is no reason to reinvent wheels. A professor of mine talked once about libraries in advertising agencies where bringing back a campaign that was in 1920 seems so novel in 2012. He’s right. We don’t remember the past, and we repeat it. However, this time around, there isn’t World War II to save us.

The Middle East has been a hotbed for years and will likely continue ad infinitum. Everyone wants the same bits of land and it seems like peace there is an impossible dream. Why are there so many angry people? What did they do to each other to start it in the first place, and would or will it ever stop? Instead of killing each other, feed and clothe each other. Learn more, speak less, and write for the sake of humanity. A lot of hot air rarely assists in cultivating an improved attitude.

I seek something better than Great Depression 2.0. Instead of calling it the Great Depression, it’s time to call it the First Depression. There was nothing happy about it. People starved and died, but according to

Hearts Turned to the Fathers: History of the Genealogical Society of Utah Kindle edition

Hearts Turned to the Fathers: History of the Genealogical Society of Utah, that was the time when there was more temple and family history work done than at any time prior (1930’s). It’s scary to think that instead of the Roaring 20’s with the bootlegging and similar, the 1930’s were a time when there was nothing else to do but repent and become a different world. Economies kept people alive with indexing efforts of the WPA. Infrastructure improvements and creating books and lists collating items that otherwise would be lost to history. Instead of simply “being busy” it became being busy with the best things in some areas for a short decade. Today, if ignored, circumstances could continue to change so that people are not quite so “busy” and the things that need to happen will and can happen. Seems to be universal maladies counter-acted by rises in the things that need attention.

Tatting: Cross-Generational Talents

Conversing with a coworker recently, I found value in hobbies that I figured were a lone specialty. One of these hobbies is tatting. No, I do not know how to make skin pictures using needles, etc. I leave that to professionals and those inclined in that direction. Tatting is a very old needle or shuttle tradition and is becoming one of many “lost arts.” During the summer of 2010 I took a class on tatting as I knew that my great-grandmother could do it, and I figured that I should have capacity to do anything that my ancestors could do. Perhaps an arrogant assumption, but the MTV generation figures that it can do anything. Anything is possible with practice, determination, and the right thread.

My teacher was the “Mad Tatter,” one of the few certified tatting instructors in the US. His course cost enough for a pair of shoes in Chicago, and on the budget that I had, it was a tough but good course. He should teach this course at college level. I put as much effort into that as I do for graduate school classes, but there was enough material to justify it. What I learned, however, is that my ancestress was amazing. I have not seen any examples of her work. Since my experiences watching excellence in this art form noted needed determination and guts, that observance gave the objects value that I was not expecting.

Thinking about this experience also made me consider farming. I am not a farmer, and have minimal personal experience in that job. My grandfather was the end of the farming in the family as he drove delivery trucks when he was younger to farmers and later went into the military. His adopted father grew up farming. My father’s lineage were engineers, store keepers, weavers, tobacconists, and have been on the cutting edge of whatever technology was around for the few hundred plus years for my direct-surname lineage. Others of my father’s side were truck drivers and cops. My mother’s lineage had stone and plaster masons and farmers.

My experiences with people who grew up on farms are of some of the most hard-working people that I have ever met. They do more in a day, hardly complain, and have a work ethic that is otherwise lacking in my generation. A part of me loves to connect with the ground and I like to keep herbs and small container gardens in my city dwelling space. This is nothing compared to breaking up fields, and I have no idea about modern-day agriculture outside of documentaries, seeing farms near my Grandma’s house, and talking with friends who live in California’s strawberry and citrus belt.

Conclusions about what my ancestors could do versus what I do on a given day is that of a change of economy and a change of life style. I am not as rugged as those old farmers. That is not to say that my challenges are not equal to my given time. My determination and self-esteem come from meeting and conquering challenges that did not exist en masse even a decade ago. Understanding present-day social pressures and norms, the world is a different place than when I was a child. I am nostalgic for my grandparent’s young adulthood when the major world wars were over and the “American Dream” seemed possible. My generation gets to prove itself in a world where the global economy shifts and wobbles as if drunken, and where there is no promise of safety. Community barely exists and the situation appears up to us to make things work. Previous generations think that we feel “entitled.” That is not the case in 2011.

I value the past implicitly as I like to learn from other people’s experiences. My ancestors could do things that took serious skill and talent; some of which I find incredibly difficult. I now know what people did before television and movies. Tatting a small piece can take up two hours without thinking about it. I think that past generations were better socializers than mine, despite prevailing social media. In an era where everything is about immediate gratification, I am grateful for the examples of hard work, discipline, ingenuity, and creativity that came before me. World conditions negatively slide, but I want to focus on positive creative abilities. Recapturing good things and skills of the past make my life inherently better as I learn them.