How did the Great Depression affect the security of Americans during the 1930's?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the Great Depression did much to impact the psychological and national security health of Americans.  On one hand, total fear was experienced in its most pure form.  For Americans who lived through the Jazz Age and unbridled optimism of the 1920s, the Great Depression was a shocking change.  From prosperity and relative security through shallowness to a massive and seismic change where nothing was secure and everything insecure, a change in health was evident.  For men and women to scrounge over a handful of jobs with so much in way of competition and so little in terms of wages was a frightening experience.  The security of Americans on a psychological challenge was undermined with how little work was evident and how much poverty was evident.  Families were broken up as many men felt shame about not being able to provide and others left to find work, sometimes abandoning their families in the process.  So much in way of doubt and uncertainty gripped the nation from an economic point of view.  When poverty makes life an act of work, there is a massive change in overall emotional and psychological shift into fear and suffering.  This can also be seen in the health of national security.  The nation became inwardly drawn, far more isolationist than at any other point.  The economic struggles precluded any reflection about the state of the world at the time.  Threats in Germany on the rise and realistic fears out of Italy and Spain, as well as uneasiness in the Soviet Union, combined with a potential rise in Japan dominanting South East Asia were all put aside in favor of focusing on economic issues.  The national security health of the nation was significantly weakened because no sort of focus could be marshaled on the state of the world.  In this, another element of poor health could be seen during the Great Depression.


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