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Saturday, October 25, 2014

What to do when the sky is really falling

It’s summertime and the living should be easy, but we are being tossed by a tsunami of big-time bad news.

Turn on a TV or click on a computer, and you’ll likely read something worse than yesterday. Lately, the bad-news flashes have been hourly. As I write, the cease-fire between Gaza and Israel is falling apart, and ISIS is pushing its offensive in Iraq, kidnapping hundreds of defenseless women and children. Vladimir Putin apparently can control the U.S. stock market with a twitch of his evil eyebrow. Ebola is spreading in Nigeria, and the fear is that we’re only one sick airline passenger away from a pandemic.

As I write, a CNN “Breaking News” crawl is advising me that a U.S. Special Forces team has landed in Iraq. Boots on the ground, again. President Obama is officially re-engaging in Iraq, the last thing he wants to do but the very thing he must do in the face of the ferocious ISIS forces.

At home, people are rioting in a St. Louis suburb in response to the police shooting of a teenager. Ferguson looks more like Gaza than Missouri.

There’s more. Last week, Robin Williams killed himself, ending a lifelong struggle with severe depression. We were reminded of the miraculous gift he shared with the world. And we were reminded, too, of the desperate sadness and isolation inflicted by mental illness and addiction.

Just two days later, Lauren Bacall died. It’s not a tragedy when an 89-year-old woman dies, but it was a loss. Half of the Bogey-and-Bacall legend, Bacall was a babe when it was OK to be a babe. Glamorous, beautiful and bold, she just chewed up the scenery in all her movies.

On Long Island, a world-class deluge flooded homes and parkways with a historic, drenching rain. In D.C., the corrosive divisions among lawmakers continued via sound bites while representatives and senators enjoyed their undeserved summer break.

Have I left anything out of my bad-news broadcast? Truly, I don’t mean to be a downer, but the weight of the world is pressing in. Just when we should be reading trashy beach novels and throwing hot dogs on the barbeque, as responsible citizens we must pay attention, or ignore public events at our peril.

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