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The Importance of Self-Reliance

Written by Justin Pearson


Posted on September 23, 2020

Let's talk about it!


by Lynette Hoke | Content Marketer | Air Force Veteran



During a Thanksgiving family meal when I was just a teenager, my great grandmother was putting together the stuffing and gathering the ‘juices’ from the bottom of the turkey pan.  Confused on why she just didn’t discard it, she explained how ‘when she was our age’ every single morsel of a chicken, when they could afford it, would go to some use.  Every sliver of meat would be consumed, and every bone would go to some use to feed the family for future meals.  

Most millennial's don’t have to reach too far to hear the firsthand stories of extreme frugalness, hunger, and 13 ways to eat a potato from their grandparents during the Great Depression.  The Great Depression was the result of the recession of 1929 and resulted in nearly an entire country out of work.  Grocery stores didn’t even keep shelves stocked, because very few could afford these extra commodities – even the lower priced items were hit and miss on being profitable.

One can assume the birth of the one-pot meals and casserole connoisseurs would have exploded amongst social circles during this time.  Not one ounce of the three-day leftovers would have gone to waste – something that is often discarded without a second thought in 2020.

The ability for the average American to be completely self-reliant on themselves took center stage due to the basic necessity to not have themselves or their families go hungry.  

Just a few short years later in 1942, during World War II, this self-reliant characteristic was put to the test yet again.  Victory Gardens were launched in an effort to provide food staples accessible for the American families in a time of food rationing, as well as a patriotic effort to unite the home front.  Today you can find similar efforts with community and city gardens around major metropolis areas.  Teaching neighbors and their kids’ ways to provide for themselves, and for some – a way to supplement produce for those who may not have the means to purchase fresh produce.

Only a couple generations ago, most people knew how to feed themselves with only pennies on the dollar.  How some could argue this ability is a lost art outside of those who may be active in 4-H and organizations like it.  The need to keep this life skill alive is very relevant, worth more than a couple of likes on a niche post on social media.

The determination our ancestors had to fend for themselves when they came here and explored and charted new territory which they were only able to do through a strong sense of self-reliance.  Let’s start the conversation to revive this!  What if we shifted the family dynamic again to a time of physical togetherness that didn’t involve Grubhub and the immediate gratification of video games and streaming Netflix.  

Just think about how the family bonds would be enhanced over the success of growing a garden -- with a dinner salad made all their own, or fishing, or hunting and preserving meat for the entire year.  Just like their families decades ago, to strengthen and forge a family dynamic based on self-assurance and self-reliance could give our children life skills to rely on for years to come, even in the most dire

American self-reliance is a rugged character trait that has been constantly evolving through the decades.  An American spirit to be independent and not depend on anyone else to take care of themselves came through generations – and we need to start the conversation and take steps to cultivate that again.  

This effort doesn’t need to mirror that of your great grandparents, but to emulate the ability to grow a garden, feed your family for a period of time without relying on fast food or grocery stores – would definitely make your great grandmother proud.


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