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Worrisome times

28 April 2009

I came back from NEFFA to a backlog of 173 articles in my RSS reader. Being a predictable person, my blogs pretty much cover two topics: Food and Economics.

Mostly it’s only a few depressing articles a day. I can generally handle them without much effect to my mood. But a five day backlog can be a bit sobering. I returned to discussions of unemployment and general recession chatter, and an utter outbreak of Swine Flu speculation. I hadn’t even heard of H1N1 when I left, and now it’s everywhere.

I try to remain optimistic. If nothing else, for my own sanity. I try to maintain some amount of faith in humanity to prevent me from settling in a depressive stupor, since that’s not at all functional. So I take joy in my immediate life and harbor strong hopes for the wider world.

But some days it’s harder than other.

The optimistic people talk about 9% unemployment is nowhere near as bad at the 25% during the great depression. But the 25% was from 1934. In the year after the 1929 crash, unemployment was 8.7% at the highest.

Granted, we know better this time. We recognize what’s going on, and we have an intelligent Keynesian president. We have safety nets. But we also have a much larger, more complicated system. A more tangled mess. Environmental worries are snowballing at an alarming rate. Problems seem to be happening faster and faster and solutions are caught up in bureaucracy, how can they catch up?

“Too big to fail” is a justification for propping up the banking sector. But “too big to win” seems more appropriate for humanity at the moment. Everything is so out of balance. In the medium run we’ll shift back to equilibrium, but what equilibrium will that be? Currently it looks bleak. Are there enough tools that we can make use of in the short run to alter our Destiny?

Nature operates in the long run, so is not really a factor here. Even if we blow ourselves up with nuclear war, she’ll survive us, and flourish long after we’re gone, whether in the form we know her now or something entirely different. Sustainability, Environmental Justice….all those movement have nothing to do with the survival of nature. It’s all about the survival of humanity. If the “save the earth” campaign was rebranded as “save the humans” would it have more support?

It’s a beautiful day outside, pink and yellow blossom amidst small green leaves everywhere under the bright blue sky. But also blazing hot. I have a lot to do, but I can’t focus well. Instead, I worry.

I used to research eschatology of different mythologies as a hobby. I stopped when I realized they disturbingly paralleled real life.

I cannot be optimistic today. I am afraid.

Love,
Herbert.

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