Economic downturns such as the financial crunch we are presently experiencing come and go, and each is driven by a force or forces debatable at best, predictable at worst. There were the "panics" of 1785, 1789, 1792, 1796, 1857, 1873, 1893, 1896, 1907, and 1910, to name a few, and then there were the "depressions" of 1807, 1815, 1873, 1882, 1920, and the biggie of the twentieth century, 1929. It is this "1929 Depression" that I want to talk about today, more specifically, how an article written in 1923 is so relevant today. The article was titled, "The Economic Depression," the author, Manly P Hall. In that article, Hall writes, "The present financial crisis is the favorite topic of conversation. Persons in every walk of life gather in solemn conclave to explain and predict...."
Hall goes on to references the complaints of the people of 1923 who were saying such things as, "...it's the corrupt condition of the political system..., ...machinery is not only jeopardizing jobs, but in many cases has practically destroyed the economic integrity of the individual..., Women in the workforce has doubled the number of those desiring employment...."
As I write this article today, I see the complaints are the still the same, of course, the "political system" to blame in 1923 is the same political system we blame today, the names have changed but the players remain; and then the "machines are taking jobs" in 1923 can be compared to today's AI, or Artificial Intelligence problem on the lips of every news outlet as "taking intellectual jobs from checkout cashiers to television script writers." And of course, the "woman taking our jobs" argument in 1923, is the same as the "immigrants taking our jobs" today. And as Manly P Hall wrote in 1923, "This list of causes could be continued indefinitely, but the above is sufficient to reveal the general scope of the grievances. When it comes to the subject of cure, the dilemma is apparent. The disease is so widely distributed and the whole body social so completely infected that a panacea is almost inconceivable. That which would cure one phase of the trouble would complicate another. A vicious circle exists.
|Manly P Hall|
Hall goes on to say, "We all exist in servitude to uncontrolled emotions and excesses. The only release from the present circumstances comes in release from possessions, from attachment and those factors which are the fundamental elements of the dilemma. A philosopher was once asked what wise men did when they could no longer eat. His answer was: 'They Starve.' The disasters which are occurring around us today are really not as important as they seem. It is a terrible thing to have all that we have and love swept away, yet we seldom realize that it occurs to all us at death, regardless of how successful our living seems to have been. There is no beggar on the street who has less than the greatest financier after death has separated us from possessions.
A wise person once said that the quickest way to get a thing is to stop wanting it. To fortify oneself for trying periods, the realization of true values is essential. If each individual will live as well as he/she knows, and will perform conscientiously that which is her's appointed task and divorce from heart and mind all thoughts of profits and reward, she may gain in poverty and distress a peace which she never discovered in success and power. To paraphrase a famous Teuton: 'If we must stave, let us starve philosophically.'"
Finally, Hall writes: "A path will probably be found which will carry us temporarily through this crisis. Realizing that this trying condition will arise again, the wise, however, will equip themselves and leave to their heirs a legacy of knowledge that will enable them to meet such future recurrences in a more rational manner.
Manly P Hall wrote this article in 1923, since this time there have been 17 recessions, that is one recession every seven years. Be wise, consume less, and give more. It's the Manly P Hall way.
~~ Eso Terry