By Eliska Counce, TSB Columnist
Hey. You. Chicken Little. The sky is not falling.
Yeah, I know. The news would have you feeling differently. The media would have you believe you need to be afraid. Very afraid. Acts of violence. Child abuse. Global warming. Societal decline. America in financial ruin. Culture wars. And some of you are really hyped up: we’re turning into a communist nation bent on creating a fascist government that will invade our privacy and take our property. I’m here to say: take a breath, America. We’re working ourselves up into a lather. Don’t believe the hype. And yes, I just quoted NWA (look it up).
Cool your jets, Sparky. Here’s five things you don’t need to worry about this week and why:
Terrorism. Yeah, the Boston bombings have dominated the news for weeks now. It’s tempting to get caught up in the fear that something unexpected and violent could happen in your hometown. But these were two people out of over 300 million of us in America, people. It’s not the norm. Compared to other nations, we’re ridiculously secure. It’s statistically highly unlikely that you will ever be involved directly in an act of terrorism. Want to really beat the terrorists at their game? Refuse to be terrorized.
Gay marriage. The marriage movement—which now claims, erroneously, that the incursion of gays and lesbians into its hallowed halls will weaken the institution—actually began as a response to a real threat to the contract of matrimony: the no-fault divorce. Thanks, Ronald Reagan (a divorcee himself). All 50 states now sanction no-fault divorce, making marriage the only legally binding contract that a person can break without the consent of the other party and without facing any penalty. Under those terms it’s almost hard to call it a contract at all. To wit: they’re here, they’re queer…and giving them the same rights you have doesn’t threaten you or the institution of marriage.
Gun control. President Obama is not coming for your weapons, people. I have a relative who is so delusional he’s convinced the government is reading his emails, so he’s contacting everyone to say he’s getting rid of all his guns…so the gub’ment will think he doesn’t have any and won’t come to confiscate them. This, dear reader, is frankly crazy talk.
For whatever reasons, America’s gun culture is deeply ingrained. Liberals and conservatives alike share a fondness for weaponry, violent movies and video games, and armed bodyguards. Just because most of us would like you to have a background check before you own one? Doesn’t mean a registry. I mean, really: one guy makes his sneakers into a bomb one time and we’re forever doomed to take off our shoes in the airport. Thousands of gun deaths, and we make no changes. It’s schizophrenic. Don’t worry, America. You can and will be able to continue to carry your pistol into Walmart at will, for better or for worse.
The economy. Good news on the job front this week! As expected, the economy grew more quickly at the beginning of this year than at the end of 2012, according to Friday morning’s GDP release. Real GDP was up at a yearly rate of 2.5% over the first quarter, compared to a mere 0.4% in the prior three months. Woo hoo! For those of you unfamiliar with the vernacular, loosely translated these numbers are the best since September of 2008. And those of you panicking about the falling price of gold? People. It’s a metal. Intrinsically, it only has the value we assign it. America’s economy is miraculously recovering at last.
Cultural “decline.” I think Grampa from The Simpsons put it best: “I was with it once. Then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now what ‘it’ is is scary and strange. It will happen to you.” I get it: now that I’m forty-mumble, I don’t get a lot of what’s popular with the kids. I’m particularly puzzled by music featuring growling and the popularity of reality shows and insult humor. I don’t get it.
But what I know hasn’t changed? Older people’s reactions to cultural change in the world. In the 50s, it was Elvis who led “cultural decline.” The hippies in the 60s. Every decade has it’s assigned booger-bear supposedly responsible for the “coarsening” of our country. It’s not decline, folks: it’s change. And change is inevitable. And really? There’s nothing new under the sun. And if the tragedies in Boston and West, Texas have taught me anything, it’s that there are many, many more helpers than bad guys. America does take care of its own in dark times. That’s not decline.
When you think about it, worry is a lot like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t take you anywhere. If you’re worrying, chances are you’re living in the future. Most of what scares us never even happens. Remember: the media wants you to watch for the commercials. If you’re worried, you’ll keep checking the news. Instead, I’m choosing to be grateful: America is the greatest country in the world, and we’re lucky it’s our address. In the end, it’s not what happens that worries you. It’s what you believe about what happens. Change is inevitable. Your reaction to it? Is all up to you.