Comparing Effects of Pandemic and Great Depression Essay Example



As a college student being greatly affected by the coronavirus pandemic, I have gained a new look at past historical events. Before this year, adaptation to extreme fear and uncertainty was not a strong ability for me, simply because I had not yet experienced an event that forced me to do so. Having to adapt to the extreme changes this pandemic has caused allowed for me to better understand just how detrimentally impacting crises throughout history were to people. Throughout this year, I have gained a new understanding of both the Great Depression and the War on Terror, as both of these events forced people to adapt to their situation and continue their lives under new circumstances while being completely unaware of when the crisis will end.  Given that the current crisis of a pandemic is fearful and uncertain, just as almost all major events in history are, I have also gained an understanding of the importance of documentation during an event as well. This understanding I have gained for past events would not be possible without the historical figures who allotted time to record- in some way- what they were living through. I now see the truth in the emotions that historical figures experienced during such large events, as I personally have experienced fear, suffrage, and utmost uncertainty throughout the year 2020, which I will never forget. 

The Great Depression was a severe economic downfall that resulted from many things that are still in dispute, but the stock market crash of 1929 was a suvere contributor. This world-wide depression left many people devastatingly hopeless as jobs were lost, money invested had vanished, and an ample amount of people who already suffered economically were left homeless and starving. From the start of the depression in 1929 until the mid 1930s nearly sixty million Americans, who before the depression were already considered to be devastatingly poor, did all that they could to make ends meet to prevent their family’s from starving to death. For these Americans though, doing all that they could simply was not enough as the suffrage from the depression got more and more tough very fast. The complications of fear and pain were vividly captured through photographs taken of many of the Americans left with no home or food. As the documentations of this time period provide an aid for understanding the fear, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inaugural address is also documented that shows just how impactful this depression was for Americans, as he addressed that during his presidency he will rid of the immense fear that people of the time had. In his address he stated, “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Critique of the “money changers” in the “temple”; the “generation of self-seekers.” “falsity of material wealth as the standard of success.”  This statement from FDR shows that an ample of people were living in fear throughout this depression, and he sought to rid of fear with his plan to provide relief, recovery, and reform. 

Fear and uncertainty throughout a crisis stuck many Americans again on September 11, 2001 when the War on Terror began. On that Friday morning, an Islamist terrorist group by the name of al-Qaeda hijacked four American airliners. Two of the planes were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Local news sources began filming and broadcasting the affect of the first plane entering the twin towers and caught on camera the second plane entering the other side of the towers. This vivid documentation of the crisis struck fear of what was to come for the country as terrorism was arising. Along with fear of terrorism, a great amount of family members feared their new lives after the incident as passengers on the planes, workers in the World Trade Center, firefighters, first responders, and many more died, leaving their loved ones filled with uncertainty for their lives without their presence. On the same day of this attack, President Bush attempted to calm the fear in many Americans by addressing the Nation. The U.S. History textbook chapter of the War on Terror stated, “That evening, President Bush promised the nation that those responsible for the attacks would be brought to justice. Three days later, Congress issued a joint resolution authorizing the president to use all means necessary against the individuals, organizations, or nations involved in the attacks.” Following this address, the War on Terror began in order to capture the terrorist involved in 9/11 with hopes to prevent another crisis. 

I learned of many historical crises before the start of the coronavirus pandemic without the connection that I now have to better understand the exact feeling of fear and being unaware of a resolution to a crisis. I had an understanding of what suffer and panic people were going through during historical crisis, but did not understand the extent of their emotions before I began to experience a crisis myself. The coronavirus pandemic ties to both the Great Depression and the War on Terror in many different ways, but most importantly in the same way of creating a fearful situation that at the time has no completion date. A mental health psychiatrist discussed the fears of this pandemic by saying, “In addition to a concrete fear of death, the COVID-19 pandemic has implications for other spheres: family organization, closings of schools, companies and public places, changes in work routines, isolation, leading to feelings of helplessness and abandonment. Moreover, it can heighten insecurity due to the economic and social repercussions of this large-scale tragedy.” These fears of the pandemic go hand in hand with both the Great Depression and the War on Terror. The Great Depression caused fear of economic standpoints and helplessness and abandonment while the War on Terror caused fear of changes in work routines, closings of companies and public places, and also helplessness and abandonment. 

  From the day I became aware that this global pandemic was prevalent I began to worry, and still do. I began to fear for my health, my families health, my ability to continue school, my job, and much more. Very soon after I became aware of the pandemic and the severity of the coronavirus, the college I attend sent all students home from their campus and converted all classes to online versions. The fear I had for my academic success grew higher at this point as I had to adapt to five online classes when I had previously never taken one before. Very soon after college campuses closed their doors, the state of South Carolina closed down all essential businesses. Given that the job I had was serving food at a local, family owned restaurant in Columbia, South Carolina, my fear skyrocketed. At this point I had lost my job and I was no longer able to attend in-person classes, which I have personally learned the best by. I had no other options than to adapt to the new circumstances of the world. While I began to devote my time to my online classes and practice social distancing, my grandfather became ill. As I was the only family member not working at an essential business I went to take care of him, and while doing so I caught the virus. Every single one of my initial fears happened to have occurred all in the matter of months. 

This pandemic has not been easy for me and I am positive that countless of other people have suffered just as I have, if not more. As the pandemic is still occurring, my worries have yet to subside but my fascination in gaining a new understanding for historical crises has brought light to the matter. I now know the impacts past crises had on the people who experienced it and can also greatly appreciate the documentation of those events. Along with gaining new understandings of history, I also gained the ability to adapt to extreme fear and uncertainty.  I will never forget the year 2020, but what I will remember most was the positive attributes I have gained throughout this overly unexpected time period.