“Pack up your troubles in an old kit bag, and smile, smile, smile…what’s the sense in worrying it never was worthwhile; so pack up your troubles in an old kit bag and smile, smile, smile!”
Felix Powell, Composer, 1915
Recently I read a headlined article in the Air Force Times newspaper entitled, “The Me, Entitlement Generation; they Demand Praise…”
The article was most detailed on the generation now serving in the Air Force, how their rearing, attitudes, and selfishness have changed the face of the Air Force, and the difficulties that they are inherently creating in the defense of our nation; that the Air Force of my era no longer exists.
I was very much saddened, and an old worrisome feeling came to me concerning the fate of our families and our nation…as we are moving away from Democracy and becoming a Socialist Nation.
Few people of our current society can relate to the extreme woes that the Greatest Generation faced with World War I and the Great Depression which followed.
There were many songs produced during that era, to boost the peoples morale; and to bring about happiness, and relieve worry and anxiety in those very troubled times; from 1915 into the 1940s.
The American people of that time became united unlike any time ever before in our nation’s history…nor have we been united like that since. With the great stock-market crash of 1929 everyone in America was affected; from the most affluent to the very poor. This led to the Great Depression, which lasted until 1940 when we were cast into a world war.
Songs of that era, as does every era, speaks to the culture and peoples of that era. Great music produced during those terrible times offered hope and happiness to the people; even though they lived with fear and worry about their, and their families, future.
The song “Sunny side of the street” was perhaps the most popular song of 1930. Written by Jimmy Mchough and Dorothy Fields, this uplifting song was typical of the day:
“Grab your coat and grab your hat, leave your worries on the doorstep;
just direct your feet to the sunny side of the street.
I use to walk in the shade, with my blues on parade, now I am not afraid;
think it over, cross over.
If I never have a cent I’d be rich like Rockefeller,
just direct your feet to the sunny side of the street.”
Then, in 1931 we have “Life is just a bowl of cherries,” by Jolly Hendersen-Desylivia-Brown; which also was uplifting to the culture of the time:
“Life is just a bowl of cherries, don’t be serious, life’s too mysterious.
You work, you save, you worry so, but
you can’t take the dough when you go, go, go
…so live and laugh at it all!”
Those were dire times indeed, but led to a united, prosperous, and patriotic culture. There were no government programs…no food stamps, no free school lunches, no welfare programs, no free health care, etc….everyone relied on their churches and each other for support should they be in need. And come together they did.
During World War II the country came together with a common purpose…to defeat the evil empires that we were in war against and whom threatened our way of life, and the lives of the entire world. The citizens of our nation were ready for this, having been strengthened by the events of the past, and the people had hope without fear for the future.
The people of our nation went back to work; from farm production to the aircraft factories, and a multitude of other accessible occupations that lasted into the 1950s. This was the age of the “Silent” and “Baby Boomer” generations; taking what they inherited from their parents they remained most patriotic, were hard workers, and did not expect to be subservient to the government for their needs fulfillment; despite the angst of having a nuclear war and the Korean War.
They placed belief in a higher power, family, and nation first before themselves; overcoming worry and fear.
“But Dr. Jones,” you may say, “what has all of this have to do with this article on worry?” I say, a great deal. Our new generation, the “Me Generation,” reared in an atmosphere of permissiveness and Humanism, and having all of their needs met without really having to earn them, has a lot to deal with; decreasing attention played on spiritual selves, terroristic attacks and threats, increase of crime (the majority of young men in prison were raised without a father in the home), the breakdown of the family unit, redefining what family means, government dependency, etc; all leading to a new type of worry and anxiety by parents (the “Me Generation” worries less than any preceding generation as they have all their needs taken care of by parents, grand-parents, and the government).
Over the years less emphasis has been placed on our Devine Providence, family and our nation; replaced with the emphasis on self. The quotation by President John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” has become a mere footnote in our history.
I have always contended that we must “get out of self” to alleviate worry and be mentally healthy. We must not live in the past, but we do not wish to forget it as well…for as the Philosopher Santana told us, “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.”
No, my friends, we do not gain anything by worry. Be anxious for nothing. To our young people I say follow core values, such as the United States Air Force: Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do … develop them and your life’s journey may not be free of worry, but you surely will be able to face any worry in a healthy manner, and overcome most all … I know, as I have met many individuals, both young and aged, who practice these principles.
Let us take the lessons learned from our “Greatest Generation…Faith, Hope, and Charity.” Your mental health, and the mental health of our nation, will be much improved. Until next time, Stay Healthy My Friends!