Thursday, October 6, 2016

10.6.2016 Writing Workout from Pinker's Sense of Style

Crisis conditions are escalating between the United States of America and Russia, or so one Facebook friend tells me. I'd like to dismiss it as a knee-jerk alarmist flinging out a hyperlink to a ratings-hungry "news" site who's source may have no more basis than imagination and extrapolation, except that the source is near unimpeachable. He's quirky, but, dammit, he's also smart. Really smart. Like more than most of the people on the planet. Except me, of course ;).

 And he's an accuracy stickler. He's corrected me more than once when I've had my own outraged, knee-jerk, link-flinging-without-fact-checking moments of weakness. So, unfortunately, where I could just scan right passed most alarmist's posts from biased sources such as or, I knew I had to read passed the headline.

What I read, made me wonder about every moment of my days that squander precious time and energy on reading ingredient labels (except for wheat--no need to suffer immediately), comparing sales prices, saving every penny possible for a future that I might not need to worry too much about. Then again I might.

 The Cold War, the war that was a mental anguish of wondering when, oh when, would the Russians strike and char our bones or the bones of someone we loved, was not so long ago, But one of its lessons may still prevail: The war of mental anguish were years that kept adults and children alike fretfully awake and chronically frightened. And then, through no efforts of our own as individual citizens, but doubtlessly at enormous effort by some frazzled diplomat, the gossamer monster just slowly faded away to be replaced with the next fear that could capture the national attention.

I don't remember what that was,

But now, here we are in 2016 and the malevolent specter of nuclear attack from Russia rises up to frighten a new generation of Americans. For those of us who lived during the Cold War, even if only the tail end, the fright is probably not as powerful. We've heard this all before. We fretted, we cried, we prayed, and nothing ever happened, but we wasted a good many nights lying awake, terrified. Jumping at storm sirens.

But what of the new generation of youngsters who've reached the 'age of reason' but might not have covered The Cold War in their history classes (which, sadly, is more likely than it should be)? They've got to be scared to death. I'm scared enough myself to put at least one end-of-the-world pebble in my store of decision scale pebbles. The world seems mad. But here's the thing. It always has. And right this moment the world is the absolute best it's ever been. There is more freedom, more equality, and less war and crime than there ever has been in recorded history. If we can face down this latest fear-mongering, be it a legitimate cause or not, with a few more tweaks, we may be on the verge of a really cool future.

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