To Hell or a Picnic

“Where’s this headed, and why the hand basket?”- Peter Mulvey

On a daily basis anymore I see people complain that the world is in decline.  People worry that the end of civilization as we know it is fast approaching.  Sometimes they think it’s because of a decline in morality, because of the political failings (or successes, depending on your viewpoint) of world leaders, because of the global economic shifts, or because of the growth of any particular creed, race, nationality, or sexuality, or perhaps because of some reason that I’m glossing over. 
Whatever reason they believe it to be, one thing is certain: The sky is falling…

We have the incredible ability now to access virtually any information in the world in an instant.  You don't even have to go seek it out with a few simple keystrokes; instead the information that you want is instantly sent to your phone or tablet.  It's on the homepage of your browser, it's in the "Articles you might like" section, and it's taking over your social media as videos and articles go viral through the online community.

This amazing level of access to information has been the cause of some truly awesome things in our global society.  Massive amounts of money have been raised for deserving charities, disease research, and potato salad.  Wrongs have been righted in the court of public opinion, even though plenty of other wrongs have been committed or gone unnoticed.

Yet perhaps the most awe-inspiring thing that the information age has brought upon us is the onset of fear (awe-inspiring doesn’t mean good, terrible things can inspire awe as well).  Via consumerism in this brave new world, fear is being spread far, wide, and constantly.

It’s at this point that I was GOING to talk about consumerism and how it has turned fear into, by and far, the largest and most effective marketing tool ever.  However, this post was getting too long.  So I’ve split that part off for a future post.   Stay tuned!

In our society there is always at least one large news story casting fear over our minds and doubt over our safety.  Right now those stories are Ebola, ISIS, and Big Bad Evil NFL players.  But let’s take a look at some of the scares from past years…

Beheading by Al-Qaeda in Pakistan
Israel was at war in the Gaza Strip
North Korea continues to fire test rockets and missiles as well as nuclear tests.
Swine Flu
3 commercial passenger planes crash

5 commercial passenger planes crash
Massive earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, China, and Indonesia
BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
North Korea shells YeongPyeong Island prompting potential conflict between North and South Korea.

Arab Spring
Earthquake and tsunami in Japan leading to the meltdown at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant
United States credit is downgraded due to massive debt
Another Iraqi insurgency
Occupy Wallstreet movement and protests turn violent in Oakland and other cities

End of the Mayan Calendar*facepalm*
Attacks in response to the Innocence of Muslims trailer
Mexican Drug Cartels and assassination attempts on CIA agents in Mexico
Israel fighting again in the Gaza Strip
Large Hadron Collider “recreating the Big Bang”

More nuclear tests in North Korea
Large meteor strike in Chelyabinsk Russia causes worries that Deep Impact could come true.
Syrian Civil war
Edward Snowden
More plane crashes

Now we’re in the year 2014 and already we’ve had plane crashes, missing planes, wars, assassinations, terrorist threats, reemergence of old diseases, brand new diseases, and whatever political “crisis” you are the most scared of.

The fact of the matter is that terrible stuff happens all the time.  It happens world-wide, people die, misery ensues, and at some point(s) in your life you will experience terror and desolation firsthand.  It will be difficult, you’ll doubt whether or not you’ll pull through it, and you may not be able to.

There isn’t much that you can do to prepare for that eventuality either.  No matter how much you worry and prepare, you won’t be truly ready when that day comes.  90% of your preparation will slip through your fingers when it happens. 

This leaves you with a choice; you can worry days away in fear of this pending disaster or that imminent doom.  There will always be plenty to choose from whether it’s a potential plague, a terrorist attack, war, natural disasters, accidents, or even just people that are different than you, you can always find some reason to be afraid of the world.

The real trick is to take the other choice.  Rather than worrying and panicking over everything that the nightly news or your Facebook News Feed tells you, choose to ignore the fear and enjoy life as it happens. 

Through all of the dilemmas and epidemics that hit the world on a constant basis, life continues.  You still wake up every day to a world filled with breathtaking sunrises and natural phenomenon.  You live every day in a world where beautiful art of every type is created.  You live in a world where every day you can love someone with such a passionate intensity that you can feel it warm your body.  You live in a world where you can laugh until your sides hurt and tears are streaming down your face.

Simply put, we all live in a world filled with fear and desperation that is also filled with beauty and hope.  We walk a fine line every day between those two worlds, and there will be times that we falter and step on the wrong side of that line. 

For my own sake though, I know that I’ll live my life aware of it all.  I’ll keep my eye on the fears and the misery, and I’ll help wherever I can.  Still, I will forever more value the beauty of my life over the fears of the world.

“I believe that life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you're alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”- Neil Gaiman

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