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The Great Depression -- Writer's Poke #216

My dad and I were talking about the Great Depression not too long ago; I expressed the idea that President Hoover's ideological views made him inflexible. This inflexibility made it impossible for him to act when action was necessary.

Dad insisted that the Great Depression was part of a world-wide phenomena, and that Hoover had little control over what happened. Then Dad played his trump card. He had lived during most of the Great Depression; therefore, his view was more accurate than mine.

So it brings to mind a question: Does lived experience matter? If you were alive, even say, just as a child in a small, isolated community, does that make you more of an expert than, say, someone that didn't "live it"?

All of us see life through our minds; some of us have memories of events to draw from, but memories are subjective; memories can be misinterpreted. Perhaps it takes someone that hasn't "lived it" to be able to "know it" more objectively?

How important do you consider your personal experiences to be in terms of what you "know"?

"Memory is a complicated thing, a relative to truth, but not its twin." -- Barbara Kingsolver


  1. Did I really say that since I had lived during most of the Depression my view was more accurate than yours? I hope not. Just living in a certain time does not make one's views more accurate than the views of another. But I grew up almost worshiping FDR. It would be second nature for me to blame Hoover for the Depression. I have learned enough about world economics by now that I do not think he could have done much to avoid that one. Considering current world economics, I am not sure Obama can do much to avoid this one either. Of course hope springs eternal in the human breast.


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