There’s an older phrase that people sometimes use to describe what we do when we can’t run out and buy the latest thing that comes off an assembly line somewhere. It’s called “making do.”
We sometimes laugh at the older generation, born and raised during lean times. No, I’m not talking the time of the lines to buy gasoline in the ‘70s, or the recession in the ‘80s, or even times like now when some families can’t go out to eat except maybe once a month. That’s not really making do.
I’m talking even farther back, when my own parents were born in 1941, and times even earlier than that. When mothers would go to the grocery store with their ration books so they could buy their allotted amount of meat and other foods. I remember seeing my grandparents’ ration books, and listening to my mother explain what shopping was like during World War II—even though she didn’t remember it herself.
Those ration books are a reminder that our country didn’t have the abundance it has now. Going shopping didn’t offer many options and when these women went to the stores, they purchased what they could. They made do. Their children thrived, went to school, and then went on to do remarkable things.
We have so many options now, so many choices now that children are starting to take things for granted, and maybe some of us grown-up children too. Dare I call it, spoiled?
We want a new computer? We get it. A new car? We make it happen. The latest media player? It’s ours. The television? We get one that communicates with the Internet and has touch-screen capabilities. See it? Want it? Get it. Now. We don’t feel like cooking? We let someone else do it for us and spend much more than it would cost to do it ourselves. We don’t find exactly what we want? We throw a fit.
Yes, like spoiled children, we assume that we must have the latest, the newest, even though what we have works perfectly fine as it is.
“Oh, that’s so 20th century,” we hear when talking about things we’ve had for a while. But in the 20th century, without the gadgets and gizmos we have now, mankind accomplished some truly remarkable things.
Those children who long ago learned to make do grew up smart, and found cures for diseases like polio. They grew penicillin, which has saved millions of lives. They engineered marvels like planes that can go hundreds of miles per hour—and broke the sound barrier. They helped shrink our world so we can now sit and talk face-to-face via live video with family members on the other side of the globe.
Many of these children grew up in an era, and before the time of “making do” and instant everything. Sometimes, making do isn’t such a bad thing.