Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fear Itself

Where do we draw the line between justified concern and all out panic attack? We see disaster at every turn in these tumultuous times. Do we have nothing to fear but fear itself?

The stock market is teetering on the edge of free fall, yesterday morning's tumble of over 450 points serving as vivid testament. If the worry over the spread of Ebola continues to escalate, we may soon lock our collective doors and shut the windows. And maybe the initial catalyst for the heightened level of our unrest, ISIS, seems able to reside with impunity in its own universe, free of any moral constraints, ready to strike whomever it wants, wherever and whenever it can. 

But, if we are unsettled and seemingly surprised by growing woes in foreign economies can we not recall the events of 2011 when doom was omnipresent and collapse of the European Union appeared certain? Can we not comprehend that the Ebola threat, while very scary, has caused illness in our country to two people out of over 300,000,000, and that those two directly handled the types of fluids that transmit the disease? Or that ISIS, no matter how they flaunt their depravity, is not at our doorstep?

Yes, it is a difficult, troubling moment. But remember the stock market in late 2008 when it dipped below 7000 and looked to be heading into oblivion? Or when it seemed that a SARS epidemic was almost inevitable? Or that Osama Bin Laden was beyond our grasp and Al Qaeda posed an ever more powerful and maybe unstoppable threat?

I am not a financial analyst, not an epidemiologist, not a soldier. I possess no special acumen, no special ability to predict the future. But I do know that we tend to respond to each moment as though it was the absolute precursor, good or bad, for the next. And I think that history, if we stop and pay attention, warns us that these conclusions may well be far overblown and far from certain. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very well said! Whatever happened to rational thought? Maybe it is all those super-computers making instant trades on the stock market - after all, they are not programmed with perspective on global affairs. However, I suspect WE are the problem... Are we now so afraid that this is a deck of cards, that we SEARCH for the tiny voice in the crowd that says, "The Emperor has no clothes," and don't bother to look for the truth ourselves?
Perspective, People!