With a birth date of October 9, 1937, I tell people that I was born in the midst of the Great Depression and have lived long enough to be in another one. There are other similarities because, as oft been noted, history does repeat itself. Only the faces, names and places change.
In 1937 troops of the Japanese Empire were advancing toward Nanking, China and it would become known as the “rape of Nanking” for their brutality. The nations of Europe were growing increasingly anxious about Germany’s militaristic ambitions and, within two years, World War II will confirm those fears. Germany, Italy and Japan would join in what became known as the “Axis.” The Spanish Civil War was raging in 1937 and fascism would eventually hold Spain in its grip for decades.
There were different enemies of freedom than today, but freedom has always had its enemies.
The Russians had overthrown their czar in 1917 and embraced communism. Following WWII, the Chinese would do the same. The Soviet regime would collapse in 1991 after a disastrous invasion of Afghanistan. The U.S. has been there for eleven years without success and our generals want to leave. Like the U.S., Europe is in a financial crisis. And the rise of Islamic fanaticism is threatening the West and all other sectors of the world.
After living through thirteen presidents, you gain a pretty good idea of who did a good job and who failed. I thought Carter was the biggest failure until Obama came along.
Living through such history which included the Korean conflict, and the Vietnam War, along with the necessity to push Iraq out of Kuwait and the invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein, suggests that some wars are necessary and others are optional and, in hindsight, they tend to trigger unforeseen consequences, unexpected outcomes.
The current administration’s foreign policy has triggered the overthrow of several Arab regimes that were tolerated and some of which were even allied to the U.S. The result has been turmoil resulting in the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and the resurgence of al Qaeda. Neither can be ignored and neither will yield to modernity in the foreseeable future. It will take generations for the Middle East and other Islamic nations to tire of the enslavement it imposes.
The United States has been largely fortunate in its choice of presidents. Names like Washington, Lincoln, and Reagan leap off the pages of history for their moral integrity and courage. Franklin D. Roosevelt dominated the 1930s until his death in 1945. Much of the nation’s financial problems are directly tied to the “entitlement” programs, Social Security and later Medicare that were initiated by the Democratic Party during his time in office. Eight decades later, half of the U.S. budget is allocated to these programs, plus Medicaid, before any money can be spent on domestic or defense needs.
The newest generation cannot imagine that when I was a teenager there was no television until the 1950s. Most of my life was spent before personal computers existed, before cell phones, and the wonders of modern communications technology. All new technology drives out older technologies and that promotes change; the only constant in life.
I am unsure that age confers wisdom. People tend to hold on to the beliefs with which they grew up and in the case of liberals they are mostly myths about poverty and “fairness.” Life is not fair. A job, work, educating oneself, and personal motivation are still the key to success. A bit of luck helps, too.
Just as in the days before the Civil War, the nation is seriously divided. It is reflected in Congress and the result has been a ruined economy, an incompetent president; let alone one that was and is constitutionally ineligible to hold the office.
I was fortunate in having parents who gave me their unconditional love. For a long time I was too young to appreciate their personal achievements, but I was able to reciprocate as I grew older. Those are wonderful memories, but since they both lived into their 90s, the odds are that I will too and, then, 75 will seem young to me.