Sunday, February 10, 2008

That Ultimate Sinking Feeling


I don’t know what it is but every morning when I wake up I expect to see a news report about something terrible that has happened overnight.

As I boot up my computer, watch the screen appear and wait for the Internet to click on, I hold my breath. After a glance over the headlines I then breathe a sigh of relief to find out that nothing terrible thing has happened. Yet.

Oh, there are the usual stories about civil wars, military coups, starvation, global warming, jobs leaving the country, buildings or bridges suddenly collapsing, storms, fires and floods. Frankly, I have become inured to these news items. What I’m looking for is that ultimate, disaster story that I fear, like another September 11.

It seems strange for me to worry like this, especially since I don’t live in the midst of danger as people do in Gaza or Colombia or the Sudan or Iraq or Pakistan. I don’t fear a terrorist’s bomb coming down on my town. Actually, I feel safe in my neighborhood and excited about the strides my city has made to revitalize itself.

Things are going well here despite the loss of our corporate mainstay, The Upjohn Company (now called Pfizer). And yes, over the past 10 years we lost four or five major paper companies, our landmark department store, the GM plant, and a few other manufacturing businesses. However, these bad news stories don’t compare to what I dread in the morning news report. I just have this sinking feeling that something terrible will happen that will change my life and our country forever. And I don’t want to face it.

It’s odd how the seasons calmly take their turn in the window outside my home. Birds continue to chirp. Squirrels are always scrambling. Rain or sunshine, snow or dreary weather comes and goes with each new day. Flowers bloom, grass dries out, leaves fall. I notice these regular, seasonal events and I anticipate them with a certain joy. My trepidation about the world is different and I’m consumed with that terrible sensation that something very bad will happen all too soon. So, sometimes I don’t read or listen to the news as if blindfolding myself can stop whatever I fear might happen.

I don’t think I’m any different from many Americans in these feelings. So what is it about us that our interest in news stories, even one as important and as dramatic as the Iraq War, is so fleeting after a while? It was only two years ago that the war was THE main issue and cause for a complete changeover in Congress. Yet, today, even though we’ve been at war for almost five years and spent nearly half a trillion dollars, you hardly hear much about it. Even our presidential candidates have managed to dodge talking much about the war. Now it’s the economy that matters most.

Like so many things we’ve had to endure over the past seven years, maybe we just get used to the same old stories and need to move on to something else.

It would seem I’d get over my feelings of expecting some terrible disaster to occur because it never happens. However, as I look at the accumulated list of all these little things, I’m coming to believe that perhaps, something terrible IS happening to America and maybe we just don’t recognize it. But then, what would we do?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Something terrible is and has happened to our country. Presently, I am hoping that Barak Obama can bring badly needed changes to our country. For the past seven years I feel as though we are "going to hell in a hand basket." I am an elder citizen living in southwest Michigan and regret the devasting legacy my generation is leaving to those who follow us.
I appreciate your thoughtful writing.