Here's Something: We’re on the eve of destruction?

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When I was younger, I looked at world events from an “Oh wow, isn’t that cool” perspective.

I thought the first Gulf War, the opening scenes of which played out live on CNN, was just plain exciting. I thought of the L.A. riots in 1992 as something riveting. Reagan’s vengeful bomb-drop on Libya was exhilarating; the savings-and-loan scandal titillating, Black Monday compelling and the Ethiopian famine amazing in its scope.

There’s something about youth that sees everything as a game. I was insulated from personal impact.

As an adult, I know better. The news hits me more personally now. I feel a fuller range of emotions when I hear of tragedy.

North Korea (especially of late), the Islamic State, Putin, domestic spying, commodity prices, drought, wildfires – all these things take on more meaning for adults because we’re invested more deeply. We have houses, retirement accounts, families. We care about how things turn out. We care about others. As a kid, I had no skin in the game, so I looked at world events differently. Call it the ignorant bliss of youth.

While the inexperience of youth inherently copes with tragedy better, adults can employ reasoning abilities to help. So, if you find yourself overwhelmed by world events, here are a few useful strategies:

• Count your blessings. I was talking to someone the other day who was listing his wife’s health problems, concluding that her life was a hopeless mess. I replied, “Well, at least she has a loving and devoted husband. Many people don’t have that.”

We all want more out of life, but maybe we should be happy with what we have. Same with the news. There are many ominous news stories, but there are many good things happening, too. A cooperative China turning back coal-laden ships from a rebellious North Korea; Mexico and Canada leaders warming to President Trump after he ended his bid to cancel NAFTA; corporate taxes being slashed; having a president who actually wants to confront problems, rather than avoid them as Obama did. On the news front, there’s a lot of good things happening, and it’s good to keep this in mind, rather than dwelling on the doom and gloom.

• Realize our place in history. The news could be worse, in other words, as it has been in the past. I think the infighting between liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans is all because America, right now, doesn’t have a substantial enemy. Pipsqueak Russia is no threat. We’re too tied to China economically for them to be a real enemy. Muslim fanatics are probably our biggest threat, and even that is mostly offshore and small-scale (at this point). So we’ve circled the wagons and started firing inward. Climate change seems to be Americans’ biggest worry, and if that’s our biggest worry times must be pretty good.

• Don’t believe the hype. The mainstream media – even the weather forecasters – lure us in, and keep us tuned in, by making mountains out of molehills. Every event, every storm, is the end of the world.

Remember that anti-war hippie anthem, “Eve of Destruction” from the mid-1960s? That was 50 years ago, people. We’re still kicking. Even the opening music to the network evening news shows is fraught with tension. Newspapers headlines inflame emotion and accentuate the negative. It’s easy to get caught up in the hysteria the major news media create (to sell products, in the end), but knowing the tactics is key to reducing hype’s impact.

Also, have you noticed that the media loves to worry about what’s coming? Especially since Trump has taken office, I’ve noticed many news stories explore what he may do and all the implications. I thought news explains what has already happened. I guess the new crop of journalists wants more of a challenge than the Walter Cronkites and Tom Brokaws of the past. They aspire to be fortune tellers. The problem with that approach is that they often will be wrong, since no one can tell the future, especially with a president who changes his mind as often as Trump does.

If these coping mechanisms still don’t help, try this one: Tune it all out (except, of course, what you read in The Forecaster publications) and go micro. Pay attention to the news in your own life, your own family, on your street, in your town. Forget the macro-scale of world news and get micro-local. Work on your hobbies, play with your children, care for the widows and widowers. Do something for your community, your church.

There’s a lot of important “news” you can make, rather than following the news of the day.

John Balentine, a former managing editor for Sun Media Group, lives in Windham.

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  • David Craig

    I didn’t think a single sentence could display so much ignorance…. “having a president who actually wants to confront problems, rather than avoid them as Obama did” until I read this one: “Climate change seems to be Americans’ biggest worry, and if that’s our biggest worry times must be pretty good.” Sad. Bigly sad.

    • truther

      Seriously. I mean, just look at how each president approached health care. Obama went all comprehensive legislation on us, working for months to put together something that would expand the rolls of insured and protect those most vulnerable. Whether you like the ACA or not there’s no debating that Obama got it passed.

      Trump delegated the task to a do-nothing Congress and when they (predictably) failed he shrugged, gave up, and moved on to the next shiny object.

      • amainah

        You must have written this before the recent house vote. Shiny objects are only for the distraction of the media. Every one is attracted to them and focuses on them while things are getting done/undone behind the scenes while many others are concentrating on the shiny object.

        I’m not sure how many months Obama “worked” on the ACA but he sure got it wrong when he announced “If you like your doctor—-” well, you know the rest. He didn’t really know any more about how it would work than Pelosi did when she said “we have to pass it to see what’s in it”. What’s changed? It still will be a government run fiasco (as usual with them).

        • truther

          I have yet to see a reasoned defense of the bill the House passed the other day. The American College of Physicians, for example, warns that it would cause “catastrophic harm.”

          The closest thing I’ve seen is a Fox News contributor, and doctor, writing in the NY Times who essentially blamed Obamacare for allowing him to bill his insured patients for frivolous and unnecessary services.

          If Goldman Sachs called a proposed tax reform package “catastrophic,” would it have any chance of passing? If the coal industry called a proposed environmental regulation “catastrophic,” what would happen to it?

          The only difference, here, is that the Republicans controlling Congress, and their supporters around the country, think they will make more money for themselves if this became law than they do under the ACA. They do not care about patient health, efficient services, good health care, or any of that nonsense that affects the little people. Sick people are losers. Don’t ever think otherwise.

          • amainah

            The physicians don’t want to lose their guaranteed paycheck any more than coal miners and their industry want to lose theirs.

            You’re right about who is in control politically but once these issues enter the realm of politics all bets are off. I have seen first hand where physicians billed my wife’s Medicare for services that were not performed. She didn’t have to pay but the insurance company would have if she hadn’t alerted them.

            Health care has become a political football except no one will really know who wins. Both sides will claim victory while the rest of us “unwashed” get to watch the show and squabble about things over which we have no control. If the government would quit messing around with healthcare and let it revert to us as individuals to determine for ourselves what is best we all would get along together just fine.

  • Queenie42

    Trump fits the description of someone with malignant narcissism, which is characterized by grandiosity, a need for admiration, sadism, and a tendency towards unrealistic fantasies. In other words, he is just plain nuts. And he is ill-informed and a liar.
    During his campaign he asked, “If we have nuclear bombs, why can’t we use them?”
    He has the nuclear bomb codes. He is so twisted and thin-skinned that he could go off his nut at any time he wants to destroy everything out of revenge.
    And we are supposed to chill out?
    That’s just plain nuts, too.

    Resist.

    • Charles Martel

      Trump could go off his nut after 8 years of the globalist, Marxist, Muslim sympathizer in the WH? Get a grip!

  • Chew H Bird

    “We’re too tied to China economically for them to be a real enemy.” Really? If a situation occurred would you really want to square off with our banker? The lack of understanding in this editorial, in my opinion, is unbelievable.

  • mainereason

    Ah yes more helpful wisdom from our local Trump-puppeteer. If the news is too overwhelming just “tune it out” because again complicated issues are just…. well….too complex. Corporate taxes being slashed again (proposed) after two horribly failed experiments with the same in the good news column? Perhaps for someone who found Black Monday “compelling” and the Savings and Loan scandal “tittilating”, but for those of us in the real world slashing government revenue in the hopes that the Trumps of the world and corporations bound by their shareholders to maximize profit will will create more jobs with their new found wealth is asinine. Trickle-down does not work because there are too many sponges on top.

    As for journalists being “fortune tellers” I would hope that the purpose of good journalism is to discuss the potential impacts of major changes to national policy–like health care, like building a billions dollar wall along our border, and proposing the greatest increase in military spending during my lifetime (especially at a time when the writer acknowledges that we have no enemies–other than the bears we keep poking).

    Just “Tune it Out?”–Thanks John. Instead I will count my blessings that I live in an open democracy where dissent is a founding principle and not one that as our President hopes, is one to marginalize by changing voting rules in the Senate and silencing critics and opposing views.

    • amainah

      Many of feel that the “sponges on top” are in DC.