Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Apocalyptic Pessimists

The news this morning was full of the possibility of the double-dip recession and even used the word "depression" in the context of continued high unemployment rates and the ravaged housing market.

Listening to that stuff always makes my insides curdle. Having just started back at work for a non-profit that has barely made its funding this year, and dealing with a house, my deceased father's, on the East coast that has plummeted in value but currently has a renter, and having a husband who hasn't had a raise in almost three years despite the fact that every year our health benefits increase in cost by about 10%....well...it starts to ratchet up my anxiety.

Almost every negative, economical impact from the last several years has touched our family in some way. When you see the effects in your own neighborhood and family, it seems as if the bad news is perching just outside the door waiting to pounce on you when you're not expecting it.

I had to take a moment today and simply breathe, reminding myself that we have a home to live in, jobs to work at and we are paying our bills on time. The country might go to hell in a handbasket...but it isn't happening today. Rather than worry about what might happen, we need to put aside our fears for the future and deal with what we have today.

As I was thinking about all of this, I wondered where the calm people were in the United States. Where are our inspirational leaders who give us hope instead of escalating our anxiety and fanning the flames of our fears?

I'm not saying that figureheads merely reciting platitudes to soothe the country's unrest are what we need. I am saying that we need people who can motivate our citizenry to take action without being overwhelmed by the sense of doom booming from every newscast.

Recently DH has picked a bunch of post-apocalyptic movies for our viewing pleasure. They usually have the same themes; civilization breaks down because of war or environmental disaster, people descend into cannibalism or thuggery, humanity is doomed to non-existence etc.

After the last movie we watched like this, I wondered whether humanity would really devolve to such levels. It makes a good, scary story....but is it true?

Humans are social animals capable of empathy and forming groups and alliances for the betterment and the survival of the community. When a disaster hits an area, people usually rise to meet the challenge. It isn't always pretty and there may be a lot of suffering because of the disaster, but people tend to band together.

On the other hand, there are places in the world that are like a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Will Darfur ever be pleasant community to live in? Will there ever be peace and justice for everyone in Sudan?

What do you think? Is humanity doomed to destruction at its own hands? Or, is it our very humanity that helps us to adjust and overcome disaster?

1 comment:

DH said...

There's been a slightly similar discussion over at Xanga. People have been debating if things were better in the 50s or if that perception is just due to the tendency for people to view the past through rose colored lenses. Ultimately, it's an issue of perspective.