The media has overly sensationalized the rough economy in which we live. For many families, this economy has indeed created dire times. But our quality of life is not as bad as many would have you believe nor as bad as many seem to believe. So this year, when you emerge from your college bubble, let me suggest giving thanks for a sadly disappearing generation that embodied being humble, independent and basically American.
Charles Munger is the business partner of investment guru Warren Buffet. At 86 years old, having grown up through the Great Depression to now be worth an estimated $2 billion, he is also blunt, wise and pragmatic — the sort of person you wish was a politician. Well worth your time, there is an interview with him on Yahoo Finance (“Charlie Munger on Communism, Botox, and Goldbug Jerks”) in which he shares some of the tough, humbling love more people need to hear and live, sort of a G-rated version of the father in the “Sh*t My Dad Says” blog.
I will concede that today, it is tougher to be humble, to appreciate the true needs in life. Still, some of the comments I hear on this campus are absurd. Even the sentiment of the unemployed has changed from, “I’m jobless and can’t feed my family,” to, “I’m jobless and can’t afford my iPhone, luxury car lease or eating out.”
But there is no reason we shouldn’t be truly as humble as those who went through the Great Depression and had threatened their basic needs for survival — food, water and shelter — and not just their basic needs for convenience and a high quality of life.
Even into his 90s, my grandfather had a Great Depression mindset — some might call it “stinginess” — that I am thankful is in me. He would go so far as to tear out the parts of napkins he used, saving the still-clean portions for future use. Food never went to waste; someone ate it and stored the calories.