A good friend asked me recently if I thought that there has ever been a time in our history when people felt this much anxiety, uncertainty and fear about the future. My answer, without hesitation, yes. My history classes and my personal experiences to date confirm that throughout human history there have been periods of significant upheaval of every variety. War, famine, weather, plague, violence, and the struggle for human rights which we seem to be fighting anew with each passing year.
If a glance backward through history reminds us that we have experience, survival and achievement in our collective rear-view mirror, then why all of the free-floating anxiety about the future of America in 2017? My answer, in a word, information. This is not nostalgia, nor is it an endorsement of ignorance, but perhaps we would all feel a mite less distressed if we limited our relentless doses of breaking news and instead chose one or two reliable sources from which to get our facts.
Growing up in the 70s, we had two major newspapers and three major networks broadcasting both local and national news. On one hand, there was much of the world beyond our reach on the other hand, there was much of the world beyond our reach. Yes, awful and wonderful things were taking place across the city, the nation and the globe and we simply didn’t know about them in real time. We certainly missed out on being aware, but then again, we had a limited number distressing events to fuel our anxiety.
It can be helpful to remember that our species and certainly our nation has faced many significant challenges to date and here we remain ready and able to move forward.
Finally, there is the matter of hope and the value of not only remembering and holding onto it, but also sending big pulses of it back out into the atmosphere. When the grip of free-floating anxiety tightens, lift your eyes from the screen, shake off your rigid posture, fill your lungs with fresh air and go find another human being with whom to create hope.