Recently, a friend of mine described feeling deeply ill at ease and anxious, but without having any consciousness of the feeling’s origins. With reflection, I realized that she, and I, and the entire country for that matter, are feeling exactly that: ill at ease and anxious. Collectively, America seems to be holding its breath.
The nation is faced with so many challenges and none seem to be on the road to resolution. But, that’s just it. Perception is everything. There is so much going on, so many people working and striving and achieving and yet, in this gilded age of mass communication, Americans aren’t receiving much information at all, about anything. We are deluged with sound bites, processed and manipulated reportage to achieve a predetermined desirable reaction (mostly focused on the particular media’s bottom line).
Just before the George W. Bush administration’s frenzy of deregulation, tax breaks for the wealthy, and war ushered us into what has become an extended free fall (I’m not calling current conditions a “recovery” - not until I stop seeing economic conditions that create “working poor” in nearly all sectors, not just minimum wage earners; and, not until home foreclosures again become the exception, rather than the rule), Americans were told that we were in the Information Age. And, I for one, believed it. Every government agency has a website. News reportage from around the globe is available as nonstop feeds and email subscriptions. Any time I encounter an unfamiliar personality or name or idea, Google is but a click away! I never have to leave home without it! The vast resources of the Internet are part of my phone!
And yet, while information is so readily available, it doesn’t come with any guarantee of quality. Who do you believe? Who do you trust? And where are the analysts to help us ferry through the deluge of incomplete, inaccurate, and misleading - often intentionally so - reportage of one kind or another. So, I suppose, I really shouldn’t use the term information in this context. What is readily available is hype, not information.
Americans are holding their breath, waiting to see:
- will there be another manufactured crisis in our federal government?
- will policies protect Americans from hunger or instigate even more want?
- will Syria truly divest itself of chemical weapons?
- will Israel and Palestine release their mutual stranglehold against peace?
- will the European Union so benefit from recent trade agreements that we will be even less likely to see Made in the USA on any substantial number of goods in the future.
- what is going on in South America, ... and Mexico ... and Russia ... and China ... and Korea ... and all the other places on the globe that we tend to ignor until its too dangerous to do so anymore?
- is there a Middle East strategy at play, or are we just going to kill as many “terrorists” as we can (at home and abroad if the NSA has their way)?
- will we end mass incarceration that seems to only benefit the profits of privatized prisons, but definitely not society or justice?
- will racism ever show any signs of abating or just be an ever-metastasizing cancer in the bowels of American society?
- will we ever really know what’s in the food that we eat and serve our children?
- will we deny the pursuit of happiness to future generations by denying them quality education?
- will marijuana be truly legalized?
- will guns stop being so readily attainable for all the people who should never have a gun?
- will the Affordable Care Act usher in universal health care or just enrich the insurance industry?
- will science prevail and save the planet?
- will the current capitalism-run-amuck prevail and destroy us all?
- will the question of the millions of undocumented residents lead to a broader understanding of citizenship in the United States of America?
- will Brad and Angelina get married?
And then there are all the little nagging most personal of personal things:
- the young want to know what’s next?
- the old want to know what’s next?
- the discontented want to know is this all there is? (Sorta a pessimist’s form of what’s next?)
Who knows? Certainly not I, but I do know one thing:
BREATHE EVERYBODY! This, too, will pass.