Set yourself against being upset
Linda Downing | Highlands TodayIt is easy to stay upset all the time. It is also foolish, mainly because it doesn't change situations, and it harms the chronically agitated more than the agitators. For all the criticism about Clint Eastwood's "speech" at the Republican Convention, we might benefit by following his lead: Just talk to an empty chair — as calmly as he did.
Published: September 14, 2012
Published: September 14, 2012
Given that world population is over 7 billion, our anger grows more dangerous. We could buy one of the latest exercise gimmicks, the Shake Weight. For around $30 this modified "dumbbell" (perhaps that name is a clue to such instruments) claims that if we grasp it with both hands and shake with abandon, something called "dynamic inertia" will increase blood flow and remove impurities.
Some believe we can't help our ongoing perturbation, but we may no longer blame our genes. After a nine-year study, scientists say the majority of human DNA aims to maintain our well-being. Ewan Birney of the European Bioinformatics Institute said "we are very, very complex machines … really pretty fearsomely complicated."
Intentionally or not, Birney quoted what the Bible said more than 3,000 years ago: "I am fearfully and wonderfully made…and my soul knows it very well" (Psalms 139:14).
Angst has been a source of pride in France. Now we read the French are disgusted with incivility. They rate it as the highest cause of stress, above unemployment and the debt crisis. An attempt to change bad manners and aggressive behavior is being led by Paris' public transport authority. Humorous billboards depicting Frenchmen with animal heads are popping up on the streets and in the metro.
Daisann McLane makes apt observations in this month's National Geographic Traveler. She suggests we not rush to cancel travel plans because of natural disasters, economic collapse, or social upheavals. After the emergency passes, she sees a "window" where "the very lack of certainty … makes this … rich and rewarding moment to travel."
Instead of shunning hotly bothered situations, maybe we could find that window when a word or action in due season saves not only the day but also our lives. By 2050, world population is expected to reach between 9.3 and 11 billion. If we cannot get past our personal, national, and international upset, one in three will live in a slum. Chronic hunger plagues 1 billion people in 2012; by 2050 there will be 2 billion more to feed.
Here's what William G. Lesher, former chief economist for the USDA, has to say about those numbers: "The brightest minds in the field haven't figured out the solution."
Actor/activist Richard Gere said of the economic meltdown: "OK, this means that everyone has to slow down and take a deep breath."
So, as McLane suggests, let's embrace uncertainty. Let's take Gere's deep breath. Let's grab the Shake Weight and jar the plague of upset, first and foremost, one to one with ourselves. Let's cross barriers, like Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who surprised all by praying at both the Republican and Democratic conventions. Let's talk to Eastwood's chair: "Hello, Chair. Thank God certain truths transcend bright minds and all upset."
Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If we seek simple truth, we can find it together — side-by-side.
Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at lindadowning.com.