We just got back from seeing a sneak preview of Cinderella Man, Ron Howard's depression-era-based-on-a-true-story boxing movie starring Russell Crowe as James J. Braddock, a real life Cinderella story who brought his family out of poverty during the depression era on pure guts and courage in the boxing ring.
The movie was good (some of the best boxing in a movie I've ever seen) and if it weren't for Million Dollar Baby last year, I'd be heralding it as the best boxing movie since Rocky IV, but what I want to talk about is the era.
We have it easy. Our lives (and when I say "our", I mean "my generation"...those of us who range from early 20's to mid-40's) have been relatively uneventful in the realm of character building. While many of us (myself included) will never forget September 11, 2001, one thing I am beginning to realize is that while it has changed some of the ways that we interact with people and situations, it has not really affected our way of life; it hasn't shaped the type of people that we have become.
That's where our generation is totally different than any other before us. Nothing has happened thus far in our lives that has dictated major changes in how we live. The amazing Americans that grew up during the Depression and subsequently World War II were defined by events that they could not control. Many of those people came out the other side stronger and while the time was difficult and full of despair, it wasn't as if they were the only ones who were suffering. There were millions of people who were unemployed and had to sell all of their belongings. Families were torn apart as people did ANYTHING THEY COULD just to get by. It gives me mixed feelings: gratitude that I've never known that kind of suffering, but also guilt for having it so well.
I have a wonderful family, a loving wife, a nice house, and a dog who rocks. There are a lot of people who can't say that, but for our generation, these things are more common than not.
It's no wonder that we are often considered by our elders to be unappreciative for the things that we have. WE HAVE NEVER KNOWN DIFFERENTLY.
But the question is this: could we handle it if it were different. If we had to go through the struggles that those living during the Depression did, would we rise above it and move forward or would we wilt under the intense pressure and utter despair? I would like to think that there is something inherent about the human spirit that allows us to rise up when times get tough. I know that I am appreciative for all that I have and if it disappeared, I would do anything in my power to make sure that my family always had enough. I like to think that I got that trait from my dad. He's sacrificed a lot to make sure that my brother and I and the rest of our family has always had more than enough.
I hope that he passed that along to me like his parents passed it to him and their parents before them...