Thursday, September 01, 2005


I wrote this e-mail to a philosophy professor during a discussion of the "gas crisis" panic that I saw yesterday. It started out brief, but then I started to vent. I needed to vent. I'm posting it here, for I'm wondering if anyone else needs to vent. If it's incoherent out of context, forgive me.

I think it's an aspect of human nature to panic, but it really, really disturbed me yesterday when I was waiting in a gas line at a station with cars lined down the street. All the regular unleaded was gone, so I had to buy the more expensive than generally expensive gasoline because my tank was already low. I'm not sure if it's, what's the word I'm looking for, easy to maintain reason when everyone's fake panic causes a real one. The idea of self-fulfilling prophecies making worst case scenarios into reality make, in the words of a friend of mine, "my mind's eye go blind."

I called my mother yesterday to ask her if this feeling that the world's ending, that I'm not being paranoid, had ever occurred to her before, since she's seen more national disasters than I have. I imagine the fear and dread I've felt over the past few days aren't uncommon, and the world continues in spite of our collective fears that it won't.

Still, what's happening? Is our quality of life diminishing, or is it just the lowering of our standards regarding what we're willing to accept in behavior from our citizens, our government, our world and our higher power?

I'm sorry to bug you with this, but I really need to talk to someone about it. I've been very stressed the past couple days, ever since Katrina flooded a city, ever since gas prices have gone up. It reminds me of the dull pain I felt in the weeks after September 11, 2001, where catastrophe changed the landscape. Maybe I'm naïve or just scared, but people are panicked. And the world feels different. And I don't know what to do.

I have no faith. I have little ambition. I have responsibility over no one but myself, and I feel I'm failing at that.

I feel like I should abandon all I know and flee to a safe place, but where is that anymore? And, keeping perspective, where have safe places ever been?

Please don't think me insane for writing you this, but you're a professor of logic. And I'm comforted when questions have real answers. I want hope, or at least to believe there's hope, and I can't find it anywhere in these moments we're now going through.

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