When Worrying Helps

Bob Marley’s hit song “Everythings Gonna Be Alright,” delivered with hypnotic reggae beat, buoys our spirits when we travel troubled waters:

Don’t worry about a thing
Cause every little thing gonna be all right.

Don’t you just wish it could be so in what poet W. H. Auden famously dubbed “the age of anxiety”?

Let me count some of the worries that trouble many, including myself:

  1. Climate change with its perilous threat to life upon our planet, or at the very least, its incalculable fallout as millions flee flooded homelands, hunger, and economic devastation.
  1. A disease pandemic as the world increasingly shrinks and we’re introduced to new diseases, augmented by exponential germ resistance to last stand antibiotics.
  1. Emergence of a new Frankenstein in the guise of artificial intelligence with the smarts to outwit humans bent on shutting it down. According to Stephen Hawking, it’s not a question of if, but when, and may lead to the end of human life.
  1. Massive technological replacement of human beings in the work force by computers and their robot offspring, performing tasks more quickly and efficiently for fewer bucks.
  1. Continuous rise in human population, especially among the most impoverished, threatening to outstrip resources to feed, shelter and provide economic well-being, increasing the likelihood for conflict. Malthus may have been right all along. He just didn’t get the timing down.
  1. Nuclear proliferation with more nations, some of them rogue, seeking the Bomb, increasing the possibility they might get used.
  1. Fanatics ultimately cajoling us into doing stupid things like opposing vaccines, free trade, immigration reform, fossil fuel addiction, gay rights, a woman’s right to choose, ad infinitum.
  1. Depletion of resources, including not only metals, soils and fertilizers, but flora and fauna essential to human survival.
  1. A natural calamity in which an anomaly intervenes, such as the sun increases its energy variability, or an asteroid hits us, or Yellowstone’s thermal springs go big time again.
  1. World markets collapse and a depression ensues, wiping out every vestige of economic security.

Worries come in temporal wrappings, short and long term.

Those we can do something about and those we can’t.

Our most subtle danger, however, lurks in the human leaning to ignore possibility, despite ample signs that “everythings [Not] gonna be all right.”

When we do this, it’s the Child, not the Adult, within us that speaks: “Please, Daddy, make the pain go away!

It gave us WWII. And in 1962, nearly World War III.

We push aside possibility daily in so many ways, neglecting our health, or overspending, or investing in wrong loves.

We do it on a larger scale when government prefers expediency, refusing to fund social security sufficiently, or confronting global warming, or curbing its addiction to deficit spending, or standing fast against terrorist regimes.

Bottomline, not worrying when we should may pose the most lethal danger of all.


Author: RJ

Retired English prof (Ph. D., UNC), who likes to garden, blog, pursue languages (especially Spanish) and to share in serious discussion on vital issues such as global warming, the role of government, energy alternatives, etc. Am a vegan and, yes, a tree hugger enthusiastically. If you write me, I'll answer.

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