America's On Edge


October 27, 2016

It's going around, like December's flu. We're all afraid of it, and everyone's catching it. You're not sure if you've got it; you just sense something's wrong.

Feeling anxious?

Fear, foreboding, worry. Disquiet. They define it. The antonym's tranquility.

Can you truthfully say this election's got you feeling tranquil?

Everyone I speak to is worried; the doubts go beyond who'll win the White House.

Hillary Clinton took donations from foreign countries to the family's foundation, then gave them preferred treatment in getting meetings with her. She had more meetings with contributors to the Clinton Foundation than with heads of state.

It just doesn't seem right.

The Clinton Foundation's done a lot of good. Yet many people have a sneaky feeling deep down in their guts that the interwoven connections leading to and from the foundation, and the lack of transparent financials, was not on the up and up.

When private communications from Hillary Clinton's campaign became public, people surrounding Hillary made a big fuss about *how* the emails went public - ignoring *what* they revealed. When we saw proof that Clinton said one thing, but did another; when the campaign was caught playing dirty against other candidates, what did they say? They ignored it, trying to focus on the other guy.

Donald Trump had foot-in-mouth disease throughout the campaign; he's been his own worst enemy. Yet that got him so much attention, he's had an estimated $3 billion in free advertising.

It just doesn't seem right.

Proof of election fraud in the primaries is piling up. Yet Clinton supporters just want her to win so badly, they look the other way. Even the Democratic Party apologized (after getting what they wanted). It's remarkable that people with so much hope in their hearts for Hillary can ignore the obvious; looks like once they got what they wanted, *how* they got it doesn't matter.

At recent events Hillary Clinton could barely get 100 people to attend.

There's the irritating question of whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton has more questionable ethics. Yet Bernie Sanders had no scandals over 30+ years of holding office; no ethical questions ever came up about him.

An alien from another planet might look at this and conclude that what Americans look for in their leaders is who can get away with the most scandals and remain standing.

It just doesn't seem right.

One of the worst things to come out of all of the political talk this election season is whether or not the United States is heading directly to war, and with whom.

Iran? Russia? Syria? Yemen?

Am I the only one with the uneasy feeling that each candidate, possibly for different reasons, will take us to war?

Therapists say at least 50% of their patients are now struggling with anxiety; blame all of the above.

Did last week's cyber hit on your favorite website upset you?

Baby monitors to appliances powering "smart homes" are connected to the internet now; 10% of them were infected with a virus fueling that cyber attack. Are we getting too smart?

Do you feel more vulnerable knowing this may be the starting gun in a crescendoing race of attacks?

Are we becoming so connected that our presidential election may be compromised by what's called "The Internet of Things"? Today 15 billion devices are connected; 50 billion devices will be online in 2020, according to estimates (some say it will go to 200 billion). Is it the start of a new era of internet attacks?

Heading into the season of pumpkin pie and goodwill toward men (and women), what's the emotion most Americans of all parties are feeling?

Anxiety, that's free-floating, non-specific. We feel afraid, not sure what's making us uneasy.

Today women wear bathing suit tops that don't match the bottoms and black bras under white shirts; lingerie companies sell underthings meant to be seen with open tops. Few wait at a phone booth since everyone has a phone. Politeness no longer requires asking to join conversations because everyone's online waiting for you. Instant is happening; there's no new-enough new because we learn things immediately.

An early Harry Potter movie showed headlines changing as Harry read a newspaper. My eyes popped at seeing it; the idea was so creative. Not so much later, we now take this for granted online.

We don't have to watch television when networks want us to; streaming and new media abound.

Conspiracy theories which once sounded crazy come as news; it nags - could it be true? Oh, no, we reassure ourselves.

Men, not bald, walk around with shaved heads. Men grow beards to show strength; women remove hair everywhere in designs.

Don't want to cook? Get it delivered. Don't want to shop? Get ingredients delivered, with instructions and portions, by multiple services.

What else has changed? Everything, it feels like, for people who are older - and older is highly subjective; memories give separation from others. The other day I was talking to someone who told me about his friend: "He's old-school - he's 30". I asked the guy I was talking to his own age. "I'm 27".

Everyone's after our new hidden jewels, our data; it's what tech companies fight over.

In the movie "Minority Report", Tom Cruise walked into a store and they scanned his eyes unasked, reminding him of his last purchase. "Would you like more?" Can this be far off?

Some people can't afford food; many can't afford housing; yet stores promote shoes that cost $995.

Anxiety's ingredients.

Both candidates for President have serious ethics deficits. Are we worried about candidates dancing to contributors' tunes?

The American Psychological Association says more than half of all American adults feel stressed by the election, regardless of party. Adults using social media were even more likely to blame the election for worry. Older people and millennials show the most anxiety.

Solution? The APA urges people to unplug more.

Or to change the subject when people talk about the election. You could say you'd rather not discuss it.

Take a news break; read just enough to keep up, then stop.

Avoid what my friend Jim Lange used to call "Awfulizing".

Try not to end friendships based on who you're voting for; good friends last longer than every four years.

My advice? Life goes on. Try, to be happier. Do what makes you happy.

Use the ancient Japanese expression, "Shikata Ganai."

Let it be. Nothing can be done.

In W. H. Auden's book-length poem, he wrote about the Age of Anxiety, coining the term. It won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize, inspiring a symphony by Leonard Bernstein. Auden's anxiety started with fear and doubt.

Be brave. Do we have another choice?


©Carole Bell 2016 Carole Bell is a writer interested in everything.

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