Saturday, January 26, 2008

Hope In Troubled Times?

When I think about the major news stories of the day, it makes me want to pull my hair out. The world situation with Iran, North Korea, China, and Russia showing their muscle could be a potential headache waiting to happen. There's the whole situation with Mexico (maybe we should add them to the above list), where not only do we have their citizens demanding to use our schools and health care, armed military officials cross our border on occasion and we do nothing about it. Then there's the economy, which who knows whether it will get better or it will get worse, but the "econonomic stimulus" package is going to weaken our dollar even further... and right now even a lot of people with jobs are having trouble trying to make ends meet. Aaaack!

Oh yeah, and there's that little thing about the Constitution... sometimes it seems like it isn't worth the paper it's written on any more. Maybe it's more like a cool artifact rather than a document that our country actually lives by.

It seems like the Lord should be coming down at any minute to come and rapture us all out at any second. But can we really know the date and time? Gregory of Tours wrote in his The History of the Franks in the 500's that he thought that the signs of biblical prophecy were being fulfilled and they were in the last days even then.

But a history book that I'm currently reading is bringing me hope. I'm currently reading The Forgotten Man which discusses the Great Depression. It seems like they were going through a lot of what we are going through right now.

Well, not the Mexicans on the border thing, but they did have immigration. They had Hitler coming to power in Germany. Mussolini was doing his thing in Italy. Stalin was remaking Russia in the model of communism. Of course we all know what the result was of that... World War II.

Economically, things were dismal. People were losing their houses right and left because they couldn't afford to make house payments. Jobs were laying off workers. People were finding it hard to make ends meet. Much more so than is happening now. Times were rough for a lot of people.

This is the stuff that most people learn in their classes in school, if they go to a decent school and actually pay attention. But by reading this book, I'm seeing that there are a lot more similarities than I had ever known.

Government was taking away freedoms, and people were wondering if Roosevelt was going to be a dictator and the Constitution was turning out to be a meaningless historical document. Andrew Mellon, a very wealthy guy who now has all sorts of things named after him, was being taken to court by the government for not paying his taxes... even though at the time he had taken certain tax deductions, they were perfectly legal. The government was pushing power companies out of business with their Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The government even passed a law saying that customers who went to a butcher could not even choose the chicken that they ate for dinner that night. I've never gone to a butcher and told them to kill a live chicken... that's a little foreign to me... but not having the choice as to what product I purchased at the store seems quite un-American to me as well.

Things seemed pretty bleak at the time. And I'm sure things were rough. The people that lived through the depression went right from economic hardship to the hardship of a world war. But after all that... people seemed to do okay in the 1950s.

I don't have a magic crystal ball that can tell me if the economy is going to get worse or better, if any of the threatening countries will rear their ugly head and the world erupts into a full-blown World War III, and I can't tell you if Islam will try to impose Sharia law in places that were once thought of as Westernized or even Christian. But I do believe that we can learn from history... and what I think can be learned from this portion of history is that even when things seem to be at their worst, and all hope is gone... things can miraculously emerge better than ever.

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