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Will Americans ever "sacrifice" again?

Category Everything Else

A picture named M2

Back in the 40's, World War II was something that galvanized our country in a way that I don't believe has been seen since.  It was considered patriotic to sacrifice your own needs so that more material could be allocated to the troops overseas.  Goods were rationed, and people were encouraged to buy war bonds to finance the effort.

These days, the average citizen is completely disconnected from any "war effort" that may be going on.  Other than to follow the news and have opinions as to the rightness/wrongness of it all, nothing much changes in the lives of John Doe, unless Mr. Doe was called up from the National Guard and Ms. Doe and children are now left on their own.  There's no thought as to conserving for the war effort, nor do we give financially in a way that ties directly to the war effort.  Yes, I know we give in terms of "national debt", but it's not as if we go out and buy bonds like they did back then.

I'm curious...  will America ever voluntarily sacrifice like that again?  Will there ever be a movement in our culture that calls upon everyone to pitch in and contribute to a greater good?  Is there any connection any more to what we spend/do and what the government does?  Or do we all just assume that the government will spend as they please, and we really don't need to do anything different?  Could it be that we've not had an enemy since World War II that *truly* threatens our shores with armed conflict and battle?  Or have we just become so jaded and cynical as a society that we really are more concerned about "getting ours" than "giving to others"?

Just one of those things that always run through my mind when I see photos from the 40's, and try to imagine how Americans would react to being told they *had* to ration goods in order to win a war somewhere.  

Comments

Gravatar Image1 - I've listened to my grandparents talking about sugar and flour rationing. I think they still had a sugar *coupon* left over, because they could do without to help the troups.

Fuel wasn't available because it was needed for the troups, so they parked their car and walked everywhere. I can't see us doing that today. Even with $4+ per gallon though we complain we still drive.

Gravatar Image2 - Tom-very good questions and one I have wondered myself, as the son of a WWII vet and a mother who lived under rationing and saw many of her peers not come home. Kind of wonder if part of the issue may revolve around that we are fighting groups vs nations. While there is a threat to what we consider important it is not on the scale that Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan posed. Music was better then as well!

Gravatar Image3 - I think the issue here is that too many Americans see America as an evil doer and feel that if they contribute to the war effort that they are in some way approving the war or worse, supporting the commander-in-chief Emoticon . Also, it doesn't help that the only news in the mainstream media that is coming out of Iraq and Afganistan is bad news. All the schools, hospitals and civic services which are being built and restored goes un-reported.

Another contributing factor is our elected officials call our soldiers murderers, marauders-in-the-night, etc., so how should Americans feel about contributing to murderers when that's what we're led to believe? Not to mention all that name calling, investigations and hatred is done purely for political expediency and a wish to keep or gain power.

But during WWII that war wasn't televised. There weren't reporters on the ground with television cameras reporting on the war, people depended on what the Govt. was saying and believed what the Govt. told them. Vietnam was the first televised war, and with that brought the civil unrest and hatred of our military. But again, the only thing reported was bad news. Not the fact that we won almost every battle we were engaged in, or that we were making progress or anything that might seem the least bit positive.

Until all Americans believe that they are free because of our military and the sacrifices that our military makes and that those soldiers have no ties to the political process, I don't think we'll ever see another time where all Americans come together behind any kind of effort. Unless of course the battle comes to our shores and personally affects people, their families or their friends.

Gravatar Image4 - I'm pretty sure Americans would have been perfectly happy to do just about anything after 9/11. In a lot of ways, we DID do all kinds of bizarre things we were asked to do. One thing we were NEVER asked to do, as a people? Sacrifice.

Would people be willing to sacrifice NOW? Not a chance. But that has less to do with the American public and more to do with the absence of a cause that the vast majority of the people would believe in. Maintaining that belief has become much more difficult in the 'information age,' that's for sure. And cynicism about our leaders is extremely high (deservedly so, on every possible side of the political equation).

The scale of the effort is a big factor, by the way. People WOULD have sacrificed when we invaded Afghanistan, but nobody was asked to, and nobody thought we needed to. A World War on the scale of WW II, though? I think that's a different question. And I hope we never have to answer it...

Gravatar Image5 - Interesting thoughts, all...

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