Poverty, the Great Depression and war times
I was speaking to my grandmother today on the phone about poverty and different definitions of poverty and she said that most older people understand being poor because of growing up in the Great Depression and then war times. Although she was young during the Depression and WWII, she recalls how hard it was for her mother to feed the family and keep the household running. During the Great Depression 30% of the Canadian work force couldn’t find a job and one fifth of the population depended on government assistance to survive (Wikipedia). Although the start of World War II boosted the economy by the creation of more jobs, it was still difficult for families to cope.
It got me thinking how different our generation is from theirs. How they wouldn’t have even dreamed of big screen televisions (in more than one room of the house, no less, like many families now) or upgrading to a new car every few years. How stockpiling when there’s a particularly good sale, counting your pennies, and being creative with money is commonplace in their lives. How buying things and putting them on credit sounds crazy to them.
I wonder what our generation would be like (and especially the generation below me) had we been through even a small bit of what they went through. I’d bet we’d be more thankful and gracious for the things we do have and stop coveting more and more and more stuff to make us happy. Have we become the selfish, self-centered generation we are because of having too much and what we didn’t go through?
[That doesn’t even begin to touch on the thousands of immigrants living in Canada now who have lived through war in their own cities. War that turned their lives upside down, destroyed their homes, caused them to immigrate and start over in another country. War that caused extreme poverty. And what of those people who can’t leave and are stuck living with the war at their doorstep?]