Archive for Thursday, October 22, 2009

Times no worse today

October 22, 2009

Since I was very young, I have been an avid fan of history. I have always enjoyed looking at past challenges mankind has faced and how they solved the issues. If there is one thing history gives me it is a sense of security knowing that whatever problems we face today are similar to past challenges which we have solved. Problems we face today can and will be handled and relegated to the pages of history.

I know there are those who would disagree. These folks spend lots of time wringing their hands and complaining about how the world is going to the dogs. My suggestion is these naysayers take a long, hard look at what has happened before and, sadly, because we haven’t learned the lessons of history, will happen again.

Recently, a friend told me that in his opinion, “the United States has never been in as much trouble as now.” He went on to point out the entire world has gone berserk, and we are doomed.

My answer was simple that these aren’t the worst of times for our nation or our world. Yes, we face some very serious challenges, but they will be solved as long as we continue to believe in ourselves and our ability to adapt.

If you look back at the history of our nation, there has never been a time when we didn’t struggle with monumental issues. The founding of our country was a huge challenge. If you remember, only about half of the early colonists favored independence, and it took all of George Washington’s skills to keep things in line. Washington was fortunate to have men like Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Monroe, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin and others dedicated to shaping the new nation. They had to struggle with currency issues, attacks from Indians in the west and saber rattling by the British and French.

The United States hasn’t been exempt from terrifying problems since then, either. The horrible institution of slavery divided the nation and led to Civil War, which freed the slaves and set the course of national government we enjoy today.

The nation had boiling unrest at the turn of the 19th century. Working conditions were bad, and there was arrogance by big monopolies. After the assassination of President McKinley, many thought the USA would be plunged into chaos, but as we know today, it didn’t happen. Theodore Roosevelt provided dynamic leadership for the nation.

In the 1920s, there were race riots in many cities resulting in the military being called in to restore order. Of course there was the crash in October 1929, which sent the world plunging into the Great Depression. No, the economic problems we face today now aren’t nearly as bad as those of the 1930s.

World War I and World War II caused millions of deaths and the horrors of the Holocaust. We have seen the rise and fall of Communism and other dictatorship that sought to rule the world. Yes, I believe that in future years we will also see the fall of those terrorists, too.

Right now, we have seen a spike in internal strife in our nation. In the 1960s and early 1970s, opposition to the Vietnam War resulted in violence ranging from angry protest marches to stepping over the line and burning college buildings. Fortunately that period is long gone.

We have had tough financial times before, and the economy will rebound. To prove that, all you have to do is look at the ups and downs of the economy since the nation started.

I guess my advice would be to “keep the faith.” Our great nation has the talent and ability to deal with any problems that come along. I would imagine those who lived through World War II and the Great Depression can relate to the fear we face today. They are the great generation because they have given us an example of perseverance, courage and hard work.

Maybe we just need to remember the words of an old World War II British song which went something like this: “We did it before, and we can do it again.”

Comments

Jason Bailey 4 years, 10 months ago

Clausie wrote: "If you remember, only about half of the early colonists favored independence, and it took all of George Washington’s skills to keep things in line."

Clausie: Actually, Washington was out with the Continental Army during this time. He wasn't involved in the Independence debate at all. I think you're thinking about his Chairmanship of the Constitution Convention.

I agree in general with your points. Kennedy being shot, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Cola wars in the 80s (okay, maybe not the Cola Wars) were all terrible days for America. But these situations are different from challenges today in that they were temporary problems. We've never fought an ideology before and that's what terrorism is. We've only ever fought a nation with clear definitions for victory. I disagree that the terrorist will be beat. Not with a President who can't even formulate a decision on Afghanistan over 120 days of deliberation.

We are dealing with an economic crisis that is only going to get worse. Oil is rising again, the recent stock market uptick is an illusion that will soon evaporate under the weight of inflation (the Euro passed $1.50 in exchange rates just this last Tuesday) and the amount of debt that is mounting daily is unsustainable. Our biggest national security threat is the debt. 2009-2010 will see a one year deficit that is equal to the entire national debt in sum total from 1776 through to 1976. That is one year of debt will equal 200 yrs of previous debt combined.

I have no idea how you can rationalize a "this too shall pass" attitude which is the basic gist I get from your op-ed.

Delusion is running rampant these days.

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