Uncle Dick’s death provides a good segue into something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. The World War II veterans are, sadly, leaving us. Along with their generation goes an entire generation of people who know what it means to sacrifice for one’s country while it is at war. I look around, as our country’s troups fight what seems to be an impossibly long war, to see an economy collapsing because of greed, to see Hummers and SUVs barreling down the road, to see restaurants full and credit cards used to the max.
I realize this is an unpopular war. I realize that feelings toward the admnistration are not, shall we say, all warm and fuzzy. But irregardless of that, we have our young men and women fighting for their lives, for our lives, and for what they feel is the best course of action. We should be supporting them better than what we have been doing. Ignoring the far-away war and not changing our own behaviors as the country goes bankrupt fighting it is abhorent.
I realize I’m oversimplifying a bit. But I’m ok with that. Point is, back in the day, when Uncle Dick was flying over the battlefields of World War II, people back at home were scrimping and saving and reusing everything so that our country would be stronger in the end. Women knitted clothing for themselves and the soldiers. Home-grown food was canned–at home. Metal was scrupulously reused and rationed. People didn’t consume, consume, consume. That was not their way of life. And, partly due to their efforts, our country was strong after the war.
What are our soldiers coming home to now? A country that prefers to pretend they don’t exist. Households that wouldn’t know what to do with a mason jar and purchase everything that is shiny and new. Households that have consumed their way into the collapse of our economy (and yes, I know it’s largely a part of Wall Street policies, but Wall Street had to have people willing to buy its policies). It makes me very sad.
I’m a pacifist; I hate war. But I still think we need to start doing our part to support the people that are out there fighting it and support our country. Clearly our government is not going to strengthen us, we have to do it from the ground up. And that means adopting some of the behaviors that our grandmothers and great-grandmothers perfected: using less, going without, and being grateful for the small pleasures in life that such sacrifices do allow. Let’s get back to a more frugal, balanced way of life. Let’s get back to the things that once made this country stronger and respected.
In honor of Uncle Dick and his generation, I plan on canning some food this weekend, and I’m making all of my Christmas gifts this year. Small changes, but hopefully that will make some difference, not the least to my checking account. What can you do?