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Worrying More and Enjoying It Less

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I don't know about you but I'm worried about a lot of things lately. Worrying is in my genes; it goes along with Jewish guilt. But this is different. I'm not just worrying that my kids might disappear, or that a nuclear holocaust is imminent although that one is creeping up on my list of concerns. I'm worried about stuff that I think everyone ought to be considering.

Take all the earthquakes, mudslides and floods. When religious zealots talk the doomsday talk, I don'tpay much attention. But when the earth seems to be imploding only two years from 2012 the shaking terra no longer firma, I get rattled. I mean, those Mayans knew a thing or two and this is starting to feel like the forerunner to some kind of Armageddon. I know meteorologists and other experts say there's no relationship among the tremors (although there are climate change-induced weather patterns), but still, it's unnerving.

Then there are all those people in really responsible positions that have been acting so stupidly. I mean, taking your kids to the control tower of one of the world's busiest airports and letting them clear pilots for takeoff does not do a lot for my flying phobia. Nor do reports of pilots reading their computers so fervently that they overfly their designated airport by more than a hundred miles. What if airline mechanics, who now mostly live in countries requiring us to have passports, let their kids screw on a few bolts or sign off on repairs?

Talking about people in responsible positions behaving badly, the incivility in the chambers of Congress is deeply worrying. It's one thing when a bunch of out-of-control lunatics with biceps and no brains scream racial epithets at people as dignified as Rep. James Clyburn and his African American colleagues, or when stupid kids get on an intercom in a store and hurl insidious instructions to customers of color. But when Congressional representative themselves shout things like "Baby Killer!" at each other, what are we coming to?

Another thing that worries me is the increasing control of the media by a few rich guys like Rupert Murdoch. I'm not a fan of the Wall Street Journal, but the proposed changes to that venerable paper since he took over are alarming, as is the drop in the quality of journalism in papers like The Washington Post. Media ownership and control should be among the major issues of our day along with a crumbling physical infrastructure: Both are bound to catch up with us. But no one seems to take much notice of either. With electronic news rapidly taking the place of print journalism it is more imperative than ever to question the quality of sources and the controllers of information, and to hold editors to a high standard of fact checking and truth-telling. Not to mix metaphors, but none of us wants to be stranded on the bridge of truth and freedom of expression when it goes down.

And how about all those school closings? What is happening to the educational system in this country and how much further can standards fall before we can no longer keep up or compete with the expertise emanating from other nations? I teach adult students at several colleges and I'm appalled at how many of them can't reason soundly or write well. This suggests sloppy standards from elementary to high school. What alarms me even more is that other teachers, and some administrators, don't seem to mind. I've had students advanced in their studies say I'm the only teacher who required them to be grammatically correct, to exhibit analytic ability, to consult a style manual, and to document sources properly. When students use sentence fragments, fail to punctuate properly, plagiarize and more, it is overlooked. I end up being the bad guy in the eyes of lazy students. It's less than rewarding but the larger issue is: what have we wrought?

Teabaggers, now those folks really scare me. How could there be so many people in this country resolutely incapable of understanding the facts? Maybe they just choose to ignore them, which is equally alarming. How can so many rabid activists lie so brazenly, and be so full of vitriol as to condemn an eleven-year old boy whose mother died from cancer for lack of health insurance because he spoke out in favor of health care reform? Honestly, if Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh aren't held accountable for that one, I don't know what it will take for America's right wing to muzzle them. And what will it take for elected officials, at every level, who disagree with the administration's mission to behave civilly and tell the truth, let alone own up to their responsibility for past political failings?

All in all, it's a pretty frightening time. Many of our systems and institutions are failing in unprecedented ways and the world seems to be edging toward some kind of inevitable collapse. I don't think you have to be Jewish (although perhaps a little guilt is warranted) or a chronic worrier, to see that. I just think it's time to deny denial and get on with the hard work of saving ourselves.

 

www.elayneclift.com

Elayne Clift is a writer,lecturer, workshop leader and activist. She is senior correspondent for Women's Feature Service, columnist for the Keene (NH) Sentinel and Brattleboro (VT) Commons and a contributor to various publications internationally. (more...)
 
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Sadly, I believe you when you say "I'm the only t... by lwarman on Thursday, Mar 25, 2010 at 12:47:53 PM