Grapes of Wrath

There are a lot of folks out there talking about parallels to the 1930’s and what is called the “Great Depression.” Take a minute and click here to watch a clip from the movie “Grapes of Wrath.” John Steinbeck was the author of the book of the same name. Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors.

After the Wall Street crash of 1929, there was a lot of optimism. John D. Rockefeller commented that all through his life there was always tough times but prosperity always followed. Small consolation for folks like the ones portrayed in Steinbeck’s book. I remember my grandparents telling me what it was like as young adults growing up during that time. My parents were born in the early 1930’s and told me of the difficult times they had; although they were quick to add that living in the middle of the country, as tough as it was, they still had gardens, food to eat, schools to go to and friends and family to help each other through. Those stuck in larger cities didn’t have the luxury. Those who faced foreclosure on homes and farms didn’t have that luxury and often found themselves at the doorsteps of friends and family, if they were lucky.

Those facing losing their homes and or their jobs probably don’t have time to reflect on how history often repeats itself. The excesses of the 1920’s: the blind eye turned by those in charge not dealing with the looming crisis of inflated stocks and crazy buying….focus on profit for shareholders rather than investment in the future and employees. One of my grandfathers worked much longer into his late 60’s because he lost his first pension because of the depression in the 30’s. I suspect there will be those these today who will find themselves in that same position.

If one looks a bit farther down the road, historically speaking, you will find that the recovery of the 40’s was later offset by the depression of the 50’s: again following a postwar reduction in jobs and factory production. Ironically, I find the interest in community gardens and shared purchase of beef and other products and access to farmers’ markets reminiscent of the Victory Gardens of the WWII era.

There were movie celebrities who openly urged Americans to buy war bonds to help fund the war effort and ease the national debt.

At church today, our pastor talked about helping out each other and how the difference just one person makes can have a exponential impact on others. Perhaps now is the time to take that lesson to heart. Volunteer, give of your time and resources if you can so 60 years from now, our grand kids and great grand kids can say we did it right.

About Gary Smith

Chief Smith has served over 31 years in the criminal justice field. He is currently a consultant assisting public and private organizations better establish community goals and ethical conduct with the members of their organizations. Chief Smith serves as a facilitator, lecturer, professor and other capacities both inside and outside the criminal justice field.
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