My longtime friend Emily tried to comment on my depression question, but I had accidentally disabled commenting. Still can't get it to work for older posts, but its back on for new ones. Here's her comment (and my reply following):
I was going to say that I agree with you on the topic of impending depression, except that for me (for some sick reason or something) it's accompanied by optimism, as if this might be the kick in the seat that we need.
The sense of community, at least between middle and lower class individuals, increased drastically during the depression (albeit accompanied by considerable suffering) as did the ever-depleting sense of locality. This country continues to be fear driven, and a lot of that fear is geared towards our peers. There is no "community" anymore (though arguably there has been a move away from community since the dawn of the Colonies). We are all taught to be individualistic, rather than individuals, with ideals that seem to often times include only ourselves. My hope is that we, as a people, can make the best of this depression and relearn to stick together, help a brotha out and lean on each other. I figure we'll either do that, or we'll all go crazy and kill each other.
Either way, we'll just have to wait and see how things turn out! We live in unique and ever-changing times: one that is likely to be a turning point not only for us as a country, but for us as a species as well! I've got me seat-belt on, my ideals firmly in place and I'm ready for the ride!
I feel the same strange sense of optimism about the coming disaster. So many bad habits have become ingrained in the fabric of society, and because they don't see any alternatives people accept them and follow them like scripts. A major upheaval will force people to examine the way they live their lives, some perhaps for the first time ever.
That sounds like a pretty good thing overall, but the downside is that a lot of people don't have any practice at that sort of self-examination, and when the societal structure they've come to rely on is snatched away, they'll be helpless. This applies to the person who's dependent on institutions to give them a purpose and direction for earning a living equally as well as the person who earns no living and is supported entirely by others. And thus, the "we all go crazy and kill each other" scenario might be a tragic reality for many people.
At the same time we learn to lean on each other, we also need to relearn how to support ourselves.
But doomsaying aside, I'm optimistic that humanity will pull through and continue to make progress. Maybe what we're seeing is just the welcome death of consumerism. Pity that the collapse will cause suffering, but pity it existed in the first place.