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Serenity Now

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As I peeled pears, cored them, and sliced them for another good washing in preparation for pear butter, I turned on the television for company and background noise.  This is not the norm our home.  Generally, when I am working on projects like applebutter, carrots, peaches, collards, or another labor-intensive canning project the background noise is the radio.

I found a news channel and set to work.  As the swirls of peels fell into the bucket, I listened while political candidates, financial experts, and news casters proclaimed our nation’s financial troubles another Depression.  That’s right, “Depression” with a capital “D.”  Have you heard this word booted around like a football?  Did it make you want to reach through your television and strangle someone?

The Depression, as many of you know, was not just about the stock market or the banks.  There were many factors and one huge one was the severe drought (which began in 1930) and erosion known as the Dust Bowl which ravaged vital crops and farms.  The Dust Bowl caused thousands of hardworking country folks from the Midwest to leave their farms.  At this point in history, our currency was based on the price of gold.  For each dollar in circulation, the government had the equivalent amount of gold in stock.  Our dollar was essentially valued on the demand for gold and the global market for gold.

The Federal Reserve began reducing the money supply as fears of inflation increased — the Consumer Price Index and the price of gold internationally translated to the decline in the value of the dollar.  Loans were not given because of the gold supply (remember, the gold supply reflected the money in circulation and they were reducing the amount of money in circulation).  About midway into the Depression, owning gold was declared illegal.

Meanwhile, the streets filled with the unemployed, displaced, and now-homeless.  At this point in our nation’s history, my grandmother (a small child at the time) was selling what little food they had to the men in the railroad cars.  The soup lines stretched for blocks and always seemed to close before the last person was fed.  Children witnessed men diving from buildings and dying on the sidewalks below.  Banks and factories closed, farms and farmhouses were destroyed, and many succumbed to starvation.

We are not in the midst of another Great Depression.  We, as a nation, live beyond our means and waste far too much.  We buy houses that we cannot afford, purchase clothing that we do not need, acquire vehicles that aren’t just impractical but also far too expensive, and we waste food as we drown in our debt.  The heart of this problem isn’t just as one dimensional as high-risk loans and a deflated real estate market.  The heart of this problem is within our own citizens and our distorted ideas of success.

Just as our nation (and nations the world over) had to rethink basing the dollar on the value of gold, we need to rethink basing our own value on what car we drive or the clothing we wear.  We need to adjust our priorities and start spending quality time with our families, church congregations, and begin investing in our communities through volunteer work.  We need to stop wasting our money and also wasting food.  We need to train ourselves to plan our meals, buy items that are in season and locally grown, and actually use the food that we purchase.  We need to cut up our credit cards or train ourselves not to be so dependent on them.  We need to sacrifice some luxuries so that we can hack away at our debt by increasing our payments on credit cards, mortgages, and loans.

So, the next time you hear someone talking about Depression with a capital “D” think about this post.  Start planning your garden and your menu.  Focus on what is truly important and reinvest in long term happiness.  Scale back that holiday spending, make the gifts yourself, start canning and preserving food, make your own laundry detergent, and return to the basics.

*NOTE: The title of this post comes from a Seinfeld episode in which a stressed person screams “Serenity Now” in an effort lower their blood pressure and deal with their stress.  They soon discover that saying “Serenity Now” does not actually help them deal with the stress and it ultimately blows up in their face.

  • Rosa - Right! Those are words of wisdom… A nice jam!

    Cheers,

    RosaReplyCancel

  • Meadowlark - I don’t think we’re in one now, but I think we’re going to be. There’s going to be a lot of hurt in this nation (and world, btw) – much of it our own fault (overspending, credit reliance, lack of community) but much of it the fault of our government. And no matter which party gets elected, we’re still in trouble.

    Just my two cents. Food looks good btw. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Michele - Amen!

    We drive 12 year old cars that cost us less in maintenance in 1 year than 1 car payment per month would cost.

    We cut our food bill in half just this year alone and it wasn’t that high to begin with.

    We decided as a family last year to draw names & limit our spending. This year most all of our gifts will be handmade. Boy, do I have to get painting.

    It can be done we as a nation need to stop consuming and start producing.

    Thanks for the post.

    P.S. I picked up some new cookbooks at the used book store. There will be a’recipes flying.ReplyCancel

  • Kath - Amen!!!! Well said Lacy.ReplyCancel

  • CC - Which is so cool and awesome unless you have a black thumb for edible plants. I’m quite good at growing weeds!ReplyCancel

  • YDavis - You are right Lacy…go back to the basics. Our society relies too much on processed/prepared things.ReplyCancel

  • Ann - You’re totally right, I think throwing around the words “we’re in a Depression” has got to be so unbelievably insulting to those who actually remember it.ReplyCancel

  • Christine - I agree with everything you said 100%. I think you should run for president. I’d vote for ya!ReplyCancel

  • Marlene - Hi Lacy,
    What you have said is true. (He does not make mistakes). There are many who will disagree but hang in there. lol Love AlwaysReplyCancel

  • Julie at Elisharose - That’s all well and good, but how do I get some of that pear butter!? 🙂 That looks yummy!

    Seriously though, I totally agree with you.ReplyCancel

  • CrossView - Amen! It’s those same lessons that our family is in the midst of learning…. And it’s been such a blessing to find out what we “need” versus what we “want”. And there’s peace in knowing we do have what we need.ReplyCancel

  • The Cotton Wife - The word Depression is just used for shock value. Those affected most by the recession will be people who value completely unecessary material things. Those are the people you will hear whining.ReplyCancel

  • gingela5 - OH I know all about Serenity now. I think one quote from that episode is, “Serenity now, insanity later…” And that pear butter looks delicious!ReplyCancel

  • Applie - That was very well put. I enjoyed reading this post. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Leah - Amean, sister! 😉 Our economy isn’t as bad as the media is making it out to be either – people think it is cause they believe the media, rather than paying attention and using their brains to sort it out on their own. But people are going to believe what they want to believe no matter what, so I just let ’em think whatever and don’t bother trying to get through to them anymore. Taking care of me and my family is more important; and while knowing things are not really as horrid as people think right now I am also not naive enough to think that things won’t change thus am prepared and always making more preparations for “what if”.ReplyCancel

  • Barb - Oh Lacy, you know I firmly believe each and every word of this. And as you know, this is exactly how we DO live our lives…and have. Guess the reality of it is…those who DO, live the simple life to the extent that we have, when we get hit in the gut …it’s hard to think of any ways to simplify even more, short of living in a tent on some elses land by a creek surrounded by woods (=free rent, water, heat & food)
    Oh my dear wise Lacy, (you are wiser than your years…) what else can WE do? I’ve had so may emails from people I’ve never heard from before…that’s why I wrote my “Clarifying …” post yesterday. There are so many who truly CANNOT comprehend our simple lifestyle…..I don’t even know how to respond to their ‘suggestions’!
    We chose where and how to live…but it’s not being very friendly these days!
    Thank you Lacy, for sharing, for caring, for being such a wonderful part of my life!
    Momma BarbReplyCancel

  • Linda Sue - Bless you Lacy – having a historical perspective makes life SO much more pleasant. We keep having this discussion with friends – even believers are so upset – the sky is falling, the world is crashing . Nope – the mortgage crisis was generated by greed and people thinking someone else was looking out for their best interests. Scripture warns us “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” I am trusting common sense will become more common and people will put their faith not in money but in the one worthy of faith. Anyhow – glad you wrote this – the talking heads on the news really have NO idea – they just read the words in front of them and draw their huge salaries. Whew I sound bitter -not really but the combination of economic issues and the interminable election “information” has worn me out – listening to music is much healthier!ReplyCancel

  • rue - Well said Lacy 🙂

    Times are tough and they are going to get tougher, but I don’t believe it’s as bad as it was then. We are an irrational spoiled population and it’s just time to tighten our belts.

    rueReplyCancel

  • marky - I have a cookbook from my grandma that is from the great depression. some of the recipes are very interesting! Some I love, others I wouldn’t dream of trying.
    I love Pear butter mmmm good!ReplyCancel

  • Dawn - I read this the other day and couldn’t comment because of the internet. I do agree we are no where near a depression now. I find it amusing that people as saying we are in one. I don’t think it is impossible to be in one at some time in the near future. You listed many ways in which it is different, but we don’t know if some of the same things can’t happen or happen in a different way. We have had dry years here for about 10 years. Many small watering hole are drying up. It has been wetter the last couple of years, but there has not been a recovery from the drought conditions of a couple years back; it wouldn’t take much to have crop failure. My siblings are very knowledgeable in the areas of history and economics and are preparing in case of a depression. There are other factors in the economies around the world that can cause chaos and even though the same ones as the 30’s may not come into play, there are other factors involved. Add to that a pandemic or a few natural disasters and there could be problems. I know our health websites have pandemic information and how to prepare. I don’t think these things will be global but pockets people in different areas could be badly affected. I think it is wise to be prepared for anything and be self sufficient in any way possible, just like you said. And it is wise, like you said, to be good stewards of our money and to always make sure we have oil for our lamps (literally and figuratively speaking). Fear mongering is not good; being prepared is wise.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - You know, I have never made pear butter. I don’t think I have ever even eaten it.

    I looks yummy! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • A Tour : Razor Family Farms - […] and ramblings of an only slightly sane housewife and wannabe homesteader.  A few favorites?  Serenity Now (a post about the lessons learned from the Great Depression and how we are not in one now […]ReplyCancel

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