Thursday, July 26, 2007

Reality's Anchors

By Carol Gee

What is the reality in the Middle East?

Do we need to worry about this? Has the war in Iraq had an effect on financial markets around the world? Are the two realities connected here? Or is the decline merely about a troubled housing market? Last weekend we learned in the Dallas News about a fiscal situation that could be worrisome: "Dollar drops to record low in Europe: read the headline, 01:00 PM CDT on Saturday, July 21, 2007. To quote,

The dollar dropped to a record low vs the euro and the weakest in 26 years vs the pound on speculation losses from sub prime mortgages will worsen the U.S. economic outlook.

The U.S. currency fell a sixth straight week against the euro and pound, while tumbling to a 22-year low vs. the New Zealand dollar and the weakest in 18 years against the Australian dollar. The dollar may extend its drop next week as U.S. reports may show declining sales of existing and new homes.

We definitely need to worry about this: Earlier this month The Independent carried a report on benchmarks (7/13/07): "Bush's optimism is impossible to square with the situation in Iraq," with a Hat Tip to Informed Comment's Juan Cole for the link. In times of great difficulty we need to look to what is real to keep ourselves grounded. Evidently OCP, our current president, does not favor this approach.

Not to worry - look at the ground truth. I use the term "current president" to remind myself that the Bush administration is temporary. And we are already in the middle of a hot presidential race. Fortunately, it seems that the military forces in Iraq do "get it" about political reality. On 7/20/07,- TxSharon at BlueDaze posted "What do the troops want?", asking whether they are antiwar or not. Note that her blog also carries the "countdown of Bush's days left in office." Quoting the blog post's troop political stats intro,

70.06% of all money contributed by active duty troops to presidential candidates went to anti-war candidates.

Our worries put in perspective - The day 7-7-07 was supposed to be fortuitous. But my post that day, "By the numbers," was very downbeat. When that happens, many of us look to other bloggers to get us back to a semblance of reality. I saved another post at the time (7-7-07) because it did just that for me. Written by Buckarooskidoo at Make it Stop! Make it Stop!, it is wonderful (on the one hand/on the other hand) stuff. To quote the conclusion,

This society and culture remain impossible to characterize definitively...they keep slipping through your fingers, keep right on transforming. They are a dynamic entity, capable of delivering surprises even now, when we can't bear to watch the US leadership on television or read its statements in the newspaper.

I'm oddly buoyed, even in this most dispiriting time.

The reality of what we were thinking in the past is also a very useful anchor. By understanding previous our mindsets, we gain insight into how far we have (or have not) come to get to the current reality. A couple of years ago, after only a couple of weeks as a blogger, I was still uncomfortable with self revelation. As a longtime journal writer, I knew I needed to get what I was feeling "down on paper," in order to let it go. This is what I "journaled" at a then-private blog, In the Know @ Bloglines. It was posted on: Sun, Apr 17 2005 8:03 AM. It was titled, The Politics of Fear - I quote what I wrote back then and augmented a few days later:

3/7/05: I watched Dr. Helen Caldicott for a portion of her 3-hour interview on C-SPAN yesterday. She is passionate about ridding the world of nuclear weapons. And she is acting out of a profoundly fearful view. She believes that, if we are not as worried and active as she is, we are performing "psychic numbing" within ourselves.

What else are we to do? The cold war stayed relatively cold due to the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, which was based on relying on the fears of the combatants that they could snuff out all life on the planet in an all out nuclear war. I guess it worked because we are still here, at least some of us. That was then, but the bombs, indeed are still there lurking as potential threats in the hands of terrorists, or threats if an accident or miscalculation happened. That is something else to be afraid of.

Dr. Caldicott's main premise, however, is that men have to stop killing people. That idea speaks to a core fear that I, as a female human being, am not going to live if someone decides to kill me. And this is the weapon used by the fear mongers who are now in charge of our country. They want to keep us all afraid of The Terrorists Who Want to Kill Americans. We can annihilate them all or we can get to know about them. And our leaders are too afraid to try the latter tactic. They live in perpetual fear of the next 9/11. So the terrorists have won in the sense that we are now terrified. Circle closed.

3/21/05: About myself I have learned that I write to relieve anxiety, to "get it out," so I can let it go. This is a big benefit of my self expression. These are scary times and the blogosphere exists for many of us for the same reasons.

Reality today is anchored for me today by these truths. I will not be ruined by the ups and downs of financial markets; I have Social Security. I know that I am with the strong and dynamic majority of the American people (including many in the military) in understanding the reality of the war in Iraq, unlike OCP. His "politics of fear" no longer works with us.

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

My post at Making Good Mondays is a new antiwar poem.

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