BOBBY HARRISON: Optimism about America remains possible, needed

JACKSON – We all have heard or told stories about how tough it was back in the day – walking to and from school uphill, barefoot, in the snow.
Some people, including many of our politicians, believe we now face times as difficult as any in our nation’s history.
Indeed, suffering is a relative thing. For a person who has lost his job and cannot find another while struggling to raise a family, this would probably be as bad as any time in history.
I recall as a youth when the plant where my father worked – by far the largest employer in the county – went on strike for a prolonged period of time.
Even though I was about age 10 at the time, I recognized the toll the situation took on my father as he struggled to feed his family.
It was as if I could see the weight of the world on his shoulders. For my father, those were bad times.
For me, those times will be forever etched in my memory and, if you would indulge a little self-analysis, probably did a lot to shape the adult I am today.
Recently a number of politicians and media figures have said our present circumstances are as dire as those faced by the “Greatest Generation” as it confronted World War II and have called on citizens to help “save America.”
From almost any historical perspective, it is accepted that those known as the Greatest Generation, who sacrificed life, health, limbs and sanity, did save America.
And history also records that even Americans who did not fight – men and women, old and young – also were asked and did make tremendous sacrifices during World War II.
Could you imagine if we were asked, as people were during World War II, to ration gasoline, sugar or meat?
There have been other times of tremendous struggle in our great country.
Think about the crisis our country faced during the Civil War – a conflict that killed more Americans than all other wars combined.
And there were other dire times in our history – times when people were denied equal access just because of the color of their skin or even lynched for the very same reason.
The struggles and travails of Native Americans are endless and among the lowest of points in our country’s history.
There were times when pre-teen children worked 12 hours or more daily in sweatshops.
And let’s not forget the Great Depression, when our country’s unemployment rate hovered for years above 20 percent and all economic indicators dropped by amounts never seen before or after.
Americans have endured wars, state-sanctioned discrimination of multiple races and untold economic hardships.
The list goes on and on. And yes, some of the hardship has even been caused by our government officials.
But through it all, America has survived and grown stronger.
No doubt, America is going through difficult times right now. Books will be written on what caused the current problems.
But it’s in the eye of the beholder whether the current woes facing America rise to the level faced by those who sacrificed so much in World War II or who had to live in fear of ridicule, violence and even death for trying to eat at the lunch counter or send their children to a better school.
But count me as one who believes our country is still on an upward path regardless of which party controls the White House, Congress or any political office at any particular time in our nation’s history.
Contact Bobby Harrison, the Daily Journal’s Capitol Bureau Chief at bobby.harrison@djournal.com, or call (601) 353-3119.

Bobby Harrison / Daily Journal Jackson Bureau