Whistling Past the Headlines

I didn’t sleep well last night.  Unless you took a double dose of Ambien or haven’t been paying attention lately, you didn’t either.  And I don’t think it matters how spiritually enlightened you are, or how much faith you have in a higher power.  Dollars to doughnuts both the Dalai Lama and the Pope are sweating a few bullets themselves.

Last night a CNN talking head correctly said that national outrage over the oil spill (no, that’s much too mild a description), outrage over the gusher in the Gulf was galvanized by the images that Americans now have streaming into their homes via television and computer.  That we couldn’t simply process the verbal information we had weeks ago and feel the full impact of this environmental and personal disaster for the residents of the Gulf Coast is a sign of the times, a sign of how our mental processes have changed in the land of YouTube, and as signs go, it’s not a good one.  We’ll get more into the way our collective thinking has changed over the past few decades, and explore it in depth, in future pieces and podKasts.

And then word came that Korean crackpot, and possibly crackhead, Kim Jong Il put his armed forces on full alert.  Here too, we hear the words, but don’t fully feel the impact of a nation of frightened drones following the dictates of a madman.  Kim’s made one very savvy media move: he’s blacked out his entire country.  We don’t see it, and so we treat it like a subject, and not the 3 dimensional threat and tragedy that it is.

From the world of finance comes the fairly dry factoid that Spain has bailed out one of its savings banks, which sounds pretty humdrum to us, as it seems like every Friday night, under the cover of relative media darkness, the FDIC takes over another bank in our own country, over 70 this year alone based on my count from the FDIC’s own website.

So this morning markets worldwide are plummeting (Bloomberg’s description, not my hyperbole) and our 401K’s, IRA’s, and savings that we’ve put at risk because of those clever E-Trade ads are going to take another hit.

And our usual distractions continue to distract.  I watched some basketball last night and took my younger son to see Iron Man this past weekend, so I’m not claiming that I don’t throw on the blinders from time to time.  But it’s starting to seem like the more dire things become, the more most of us burrow into a mental cave so that we can continue functioning as if things are more or less proceeding normally.

The trouble is that the more we ignore the weeds, the bigger they grow, and the wider they spread.

It’s like drinking too much to get away from a nagging problem.  You wake up with a headache and a dry mouth, and the problem has not only not gone away but may well have increased in intensity, so the choice is to keep escaping an escalating mess, or face the music until it’s no longer painfully dissonant.

Your call.  My call.  Our call.