Friday, April 24, 2009

Breadlines for everyone...musings

A story within a story...Leah McLaren wrote a Globe Life Style column (April 18th) called "What David Foot didn't tell us," in which she talks about an article in the May issue of Toronto Life:
"In the cover story in the latest issue of Toronto Life, Katrina Onstad writes about the boundless enthusiasm the younger generation is showing in the face of an economic meltdown. Her over-educated, under-employed interview subjects are so relentlessly positive about the future that Onstad at one point blurts, "What if it's not okay? What if it's breadlines for everyone? What if it's Grapes of Wrath?" To which her 25-year-old subject responds with a puzzled, "I just don't go there. I just don't think that way.""
McLaren continues:
"As someone just a few years older [in her mid-thirties], I do. The rest of my generation may not know it yet, but we have been robbed. Our famous self-esteem and sense of entitlement - instilled in us by over-indulgent boomer parents - can only shield us from the truth for so long: The demographers were wrong. We are in for a very rough ride. Much rougher than our parents."
Remember that Gary Thomas quote we had at the top of the blog for awhile? "The physical and social luxuries of our world also make it more difficult for us to face the hard internal issues because we don't have to....How do we talk about the cross to a generation that finds unfluffed pillows intolerable?"--Gary Thomas, Seeking the Face of God Are the current crop of ever-more-coddled children even less prepared than the twenty-somethings to face a world without unfluffed pillows or handheld things that go beep?

I know many families who are determined that their offspring will not be that helpless or that picky, and who seem to be fairly successful in their attempts not to raise hothouse flowers...but I sometimes wonder if there's some key piece of the code that's not getting transmitted, at least in this end of the woods. I had a recent conversation with someone who explained to me in detail why eating oatmeal was just not within her current parameters. And it's not the oatmeal that matters, it's the principle of the thing. [But this same person has showed me many times how smart and thrifty she can be in other ways, so we'll let the oatmeal issue pass.]

Nate Saint's mother used to let her children climb on the roof of their house and, apparently, didn't seem to worry even when they jumped off of or onto very high things. Neighbours criticized her. Probably these days one of them would have called the authorities. However, she ignored them. Had she ordered the children down or told them it was too dangerous or otherwise coddled them, Nate Saint would probably not have become a missionary pilot.

So? What's your take? How bad do you think things can get? Do children need to be prepared for something that might never happen? you think that age bracket has something to do with one's ability to prepare for hard times, or one's willingness to stick one's head in the sandbox?


Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Good question.

I do think things are going to get pretty bad. After all, there is only so much spending more than you have that can happen before you are worse than broke!

I think that one key to preparing kids for all kinds of things that might happen is to educate them to be readers. Readers experience many worlds in their imagination, and learn about a plethora of possibilities, most of which will never happen to them! In this way, much of human experience is at the reader's fingertips, and when something out of a person's own experience does happen to her, she has models in her head of how to deal with it.

Sebastian said...

I think that age and stage of life have a lot to do with your outlook. It is one thing to stay positive and not look on the negative when you are young, don't mind sharing a small apartment, eating whatever you happen to throw together.
It is something different when you have children dependent on you, when the well being of a family depends on your creativity in producing a nutritious and filling meal from what you have on hand, when the spectre of illness presents possible ruin for your parents or your own family.
I used to have no problem with heights. But put me in a church tower or on a high bridge with my kids and I am white knuckled. It is the potential for failing those who rely on me that I fear most.
If I were young and independent, it would be much easier to be only positive. And I think many 20 somethings still have their parents as a possible safety net.

Tori, Jessie, Ria, Kat, and Tea. Who is next? said...

I hope that they will continue to think positively and feel hope! Perhaps it's a little naive, but when I've been my most depressed was when the realities of the world were ALL I could see. I feel more hope at this time than I've felt in YEARS... mostly, I think, because I felt challenged to try to feel hope in SPITE of the economy and the way things just generally seem to be going. And Father has filled me full... I wish I could pass some of my hope out to others. And He has brought about the amazing miracle of a BETTER job for my husband (he already had 2), so that he almost works just one. Long hours, but still! AND we have a stable/steady paycheck. This is the first time for that since I was teaching... 6 years ago when the economy was totally okay as far as the general population was concerned.

I do think 20-somethings sort of can't be too concerned because there's SO much to deal with at that time of life. That's how it was for me, at least. I was aware of "needing" food storage and other preparedness things, but didn't DO it.

It seems that crosses are difficult to bear regardless of how fluffy our existence before our awareness of them. I look at others and then reflect on what I imagine I must look like to others and think I shouldn't feel bad when I do... but then I have to remind myself that what I have it perfectly fitted for me, so it IS difficult FOR ME. And that's what crosses are... PERFECTLY fitted. So even if they may not seem quite cut out for what's coming... I, personally, think they will surprise those who doubt them (and others of us that have thought our crosses a little too light).

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I also think we're just on the edge of very difficult times (which is why I've been doing the "deepening the pantry" posts).

It's funny you wrote about this because I was just thinking the same thing yesterday. It seems most people are in denial but especially young people.

My son is in college and I haven't heard one discussion among them about anything but a bright future ahead.

My son is considering going through the Air Force ROTC program next fall and we're encouraging it. It fits his chosen degree (computer science), it would help pay for his education, and he would have job security.

If the U. S. Air Force goes down, we have more to be concerned about than unemployment statistics. :)

Queen of Carrots said...

If it is breadlines for everyone, what will we be benefited by freaking out over the possibility in advance?

After a lifetime around people who are sure doom is just around the corner (I'm still using up other people's Y2K supplies), I'm a bit skeptical. (Also our personal financial situation is finally starting to improve, which makes it hard for me to realize the recession is more than media hype.)

I do think children should be prepared to deal with hard things, to work with their hands, to be creative and resourceful. That's just life. Life is tough. The more you can do and deal with, the more likely you are to get what you want out of it.

But I do try not to think about "how bad things might get." There's nothing I can do about it. If things do get bad, I'll have enough to do dealing with it when the time comes without being worn out with worry beforehand.

"Prepare for the worst, hope for the best." That's what Grandma always said, and she made it through the Great Depression on green beans and stolen potatoes. If she did it, I could to. (Except I'd try to swallow my pride and *ask* for the potatoes instead of stealing them. :-) )

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