I’m taking the easy way out this week. Instead of attempting to draft something new and, hopefully, useful, I thought I’d share something I received in my email from a great friend, Don Wolf. I’ve taken the liberty of adding a graphic or two, but the original reads pretty much as follows:

It’s hard to discern between what’s a real threat and what is just simple panic and hysteria. For a small amount of perspective at this moment, imagine you were born in 1900.

On your 14th birthday, World War I starts, and ends on your 18th birthday. 22 million people perish in that war.

Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 20th birthday. 50 million people die from it in those two years. Yes, 50 million.

On your 29th birthday, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 33. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy.

When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet. And don’t try to catch your breath. On your 41st birthday, the United States is fully pulled into WWII. Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war.

At 50, the Korean War starts. 5 million perish. At 55 the Vietnam War begins and doesn’t end for 20 years. 4 million people perish in that conflict.

On your 62nd birthday, you have the Cuban Missile Crisis, a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, should have ended. Great leaders prevented that from happening.

When you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends. Think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How do you survive all of that?

When you were a kid in 1985, you didn’t think your 85-year-old grandparent understood how hard school was, or how mean that kid in your class was. Yet they survived through everything listed above.

Perspective is an amazing art. Refined as time goes on, and enlightening like you wouldn’t believe. Let’s try and keep things in perspective.

Words to live by, I think.


About joshlangston

Grateful and well-loved husband, happy grandparent, novelist, editor, and teacher. My life plate is full, and I couldn't be happier. Anything else I might add would be anticlimactic. Cheers!
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23 Responses to Perspective

  1. sonyabravermanaolcom says:

    Excellent advice. Beautifully written. Moving.

  2. Gerald Flinchum says:

    A very moving story, thanks. A great grandfather died of “influenza” in 1920 at the ripe old age of 46, leaving 6 children and a widow behind to take care of his farm in North Carolina. Have his old carpenter’s chest and an old portrait from the family to remember him. Tell the story to our children so perhaps he won’t be forgotten.

  3. D Zizich says:

    Thanks Josh and Don for giving me an invite to my parents life.

    Get Outlook for Android


  4. Karen Boyce says:

    Profound and mind boggling. Every generation has its crisis it seems. And I recognized that gentleman with a camera right away!

  5. Wonderful insight and so true. I wish our millennials (my own children fit into that group) and more realized how their age group during those times had to grow up too fast, lose parents and siblings to flu, and put their lives on hold and go to war. I get it more than most and I try to explain to them as much as I can. Today’s atmosphere is trying to remove our history (good and bad). My father and 3 uncles fought in WW2 to eradicate socialism and evil, then Korea- and then try to raise a family. Oh, to try to open closed minds…
    Great post, Josh and Don… Keep it up!

    • joshlangston says:

      Thank you! There’s a reason they’re often referred to as the Greatest Generation. Lord knows, they had to live through more than their fare share of misery.

  6. Cousin Tom says:

    Very well said with so few words but oh so depressing🧐

  7. Betty Smith says:

    My dad’s mother died of the Spanish flu: she was 20 and my dad, a twin, was 10 months old. Yes, very thought-provoking and a testament to that Greatest Generation.

  8. Alice Carnahan says:

    Excellent piece – thanks! Alice

  9. John LANGSTON says:

    Excellent Josh and kudos to Don.

    Sent from my T-Mobile 4G LTE Device

  10. Barry Womack says:

    Nice, Mr. Wolf. Don’t know about everyone else, but I needed a good kick-in-the-pants, suck-it-up lecture.

  11. Barry Womack says:

    Wow. No more of that stale stuff, huh?

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