The other day I was listening to an interview with John Crawford, author of The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldier's Account of the War in Iraq on the Al Franken Show. When asked about dealing with the fear of getting blown up while on tour in Iraq, he explained that he couldn't really go around actively thinking about the danger he was in or he wouldn't have been able to function. Instead, he explained, it was more like walking around with that nagging feeling you get when you're driving too fast and you know it's dangerous.
Well, I certainly don't have the kind of daily danger in my life that a soldier in Iraq does. Nonetheless, this metaphor seems apt for the way I feel sometimes, in a world where I believe our leaders are at best idiotic, incompetent, negligent and obtuse and at worst, corrupt, opportunistic, malevolent, depraved and repressive. Each day a new issue riles, irritates or terrifies me. These feelings have become this generalized anxiety that I live with, like I'm in a car that's going a bit too fast...and unfortunately my idiotic tenth cousin once removed (yes, I'm really related to Bush, but I didn't vote for him) is the driver. That said, I am mostly sanguine about the world and its future.
I find that talking about the issues that bother me helps me to diffuse the anxiety, as it allows me to feel that I've made some active contribution to changing that which I fear or dislike. I know we don't usually think of discussion as being an act of change, but it really can be. Whenever I engage in public discourse, whether it's in someone's living room or here on this little slice of cyberspace, I think of myself as being a part of this giant forge in which we all heat, hammer and shape our thoughts. I believe in this process, even though most of the dents we each make in the communal metal are imperceptible.
In addition to reading the news each day in the New York Times, I also consume a variety of opinions each day from talk radio, the Times Op-ed section, various blogs, magazines and cable news shows. We live in an age where there are so many voices contributing to the public dialogue that it can sometimes seem like a meaningless cacophony. While this may be overwhelming sometimes, I consider this superfluity of opinion to be a quality problem that I'm happy to have. I don't agree with every opinion I read, but each helps me to see an issue from a new perspective and helps me to test or temper my own.
And that's my thought for the day =-)