Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The view from under my desk

I read the op ed from Thomas Friedman in this morning's NY Times (Our Three Bombs) and immediately wanted to hide under my desk, much as we were instructed to do as children. Once there, we were supposed to be somehow safe from the Communist menace. In Mr. Friedman's analysis, today there appears to be no place of refuge large enough to shield us from the unrelenting problems that attack us on all sides.

I pulled up the First Inaugural Address of FDR, as I tried to think of some moment in our past where we felt trapped by enemies on multiple fronts. But in 1933, all Roosevelt saw on the horizon was the economic woes that had created our national anxiety. When he spoke of fear as the nameless, unreasoning , unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance, this concern was directed, for him, only on material things. There was not a mention in his speech of the perils of a second enemy who would await us on foreign soil 8 years later.

From the assessment of Mr. Friedman our enemies now seem too many and our problems too massive to ever conceive of being in a position tomorrow, or for as many tomorrows as we can see, to finish our work. It is a sad commentary that we live in a world where, at least in Mr. Friedman's view, it seems likely we may never again be able to emerge from under our desks.

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