Every year there is a common negative theme “These are the worst of times” or “We are living in the end of times”. History is amazing but only if we remember the past. The common negative themes show that we often forget about our past and think we are the first ones living in such a situation. Nothing could be further from the truth. I detail below, a crisis state that has been in every decade since 1900. I write this with hopes that we realize how normal things are today, and that crisis is just part of living. Also, within each decade I showcase major events but that is not to say other important things did not happen.
1900-1909: 1906 San Francisco Earthquake
This was a true disaster. A 7.9 magnitude earthquake stuck the city causing significant disaster. Shortly after the earthquake, fire broke out and consumed the city. Over 3,000 people died. Many at the time saw it as an omen of the End of the World.
1910-1919: World War I
This period is should be self-explanatory about the types of fears and ‘end of the world’ thoughts that it provoked.
1920-1929: The Women’s Suffrage Movement - Prohibition
During this period, the dominating men felt that things were worse then ever because women were demanding the right to vote. The women gained the right and things were never the same as before. Also with the women’s voice being heard sprung Prohibition, making alcohol illegal and giving rise to powerful mob families and original gangsters.
1930-1939: The Great Depression – Adolf Hilter and WW2
With The Great Depression, it was easy to see how people of the time thought the world was ending as well as worse off then ever before. Millions struggled to live and as a result, learned to save the little they had which resulted in very well off people who lived through this time and retired many decades later. Also, this is the period where Hitler starts his concentration camps and World War 2 started…
1940-1949: World War 2 – The Cold War Begins
20 years later, people felt the world was ending with a 2nd world war. They thought it was the worst of times.
1950-1959: The Cold War continues – Segregation Ends
The cold war instilled deathly fear in people as they thought the world could end at any second. Also, with segregation ending, many were not happy and said stuff like “These are the worst of times”.
1960-1969: Vietnam – Kennedy Assassination
More war and more death. A renewed sense of doom and gloom.
1970-1979: Jonestown Massacre – Olympic Massacre – Earthquake of the Century – Iran Hostages
More death and natural disasters. Again, thinking it has never happened before, doom and gloom persists.
1980-1989: Fall or Berlin Wall – Mt. St. Helens Erupts – AIDS
With more natural disasters and political upheaval, things seemed like the end of the world. Aids was seen as a gay mans problem but became so much more.
1990-1999: Oklahoma City Bombing – Columbine H.S. Shooting – Internet becoming more widespread
As with all the previous decades this one was no different. With the tragedies it was seen as doom and gloom and we are damned to be ended.
2000-2009: World Trade Center, Pentagon, Pennsylvania – Indonesia Tsunami
The events that shaped this decade briefly opened the eyes of people.