It is indeed an unsettling time in America. The president's approval rating is down to 39 percent. Asked if the nation is going in the right direction, only about a fourth of those responding said we are. The natural disasters keep mounting. This nation, which should be figuring out how to balance our budget, is having to spend billions on the Iraq war and on helping rebuild the hurricane ravaged coast.
Whether you like or hate the war, it just keeps going on and on and Americans keep getting killed.
Some of the key leaders of Congress are either indicted or under investigation. A person we know little or nothing about is nominated for the highest court in America. There is whole Karl Rove and the C.I.A. leak controversy that no one fully understands but we know it is swirling and unsettling.
Hovering on the horizon is this giant Social Security problem. Also hovering is whether this nation is ready to respond to any more attacks or another giant natural disaster. And this gas price, heating fuel mess is very annoying and for some a little scary since they don't know where they are going to get the money to pay the high costs.
Wow, are you depressed yet? I am writing this and it is depressing me.
Unsettling is the best word I can think of because you just want some order in your life and so many things are just swirling out there.
I can't even hardly bear to think of the happy holidays coming up and the children in America and wives or husbands in America who will be losing a loved one in fighting in Iraq. Losing someone in this endless war is sad, but around the holidays it just seems worse.
Besides all of this being unsettling, I am almost mentally weary of it all. I am tired of everything being a controversy. I am tired of everything spun this way or that way.
I am tired of constant spam on the computer. I am tired of people telling me I have $8 million waiting for me in some far-off country because a guy whose name I can't pronounce died without a will and left it to me. I say tired, because it is like the bad joke that just keeps on going and going and going. You have long ago gotten over the idea that this was funny, that someone thought you were stupid enough to fall for it. Now you are down to just being annoyed that you have to hit the ”delete“ button one more time.
I grew up in the ‘50s and for those of you too young to have lived through this time or even to have watched ”Happy Day“ I will tell you it was a very settled time.
The president was Dwight David Eisenhower. He was a war hero and a man who exuded confidence and so we knew we were OK and could sleep at night. When you went to bed at night and woke up the next day you didn't hear about something blown u p by some terrorist. The town in which I lived seemed to be finished. Occasionally they dug up a road, but for the most part the city was completed.
Now you drive down the road and they have it blocked off. Everything seems to be under construction constantly. They are always knocking down trees or bulldozing something to make way for something else. Some call it progress. I call it unsettling.
I gather from reading people like F. Scott Fitzgerald that the early part of the 20th century was also an unsettling time, a period of uncertainty in which the world seemed to be spinning out of control. It was sort of a lost generation whose lives were flipped upside down.
If you think a lot about this consternation, it will drive you nuts. The only thing you can do is try to get order in your own life and only half pay attention to the consternation that you have no control over.
I am convinced that is why the apartments in New York City are so organized, so perfect. People who can't control the streets of New York can at least control there own little world. They can have quiet and order and control over themselves once they close the door and lock out the world's consternation.
I have a computerized chess game and it kicks my butt every time I play. Sometimes it takes longer and sometimes it is only a handful of moves. I am working methodically to figure out a way to beat it at least once. I make the same opening move to see if it responds the same way each time. That way I can start altering one thing or the other and try to trap it. So I am trying to stay focused on things I can control.
I love politics and so I will be anxious to see how this swirling, unsettling consternation will translate at the polls next year. Will voters take aim at those in power? Will the consternation subside in time for those in power to stay in power? Will people just throw up their hands and not vote?
If I am going to be optimistic I have to keep telling myself that we will work through these times and get things under control.
Bob Paslay is editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (770) 478-5753 Ext. 257.