smason edit.jpg (23187 bytes)Look At It This Way
by Dr. Steve Mason

We make some of our greatest gains
When we see old things
In new ways

Don't Worry Be Happy

Why is it that every little bad habit is suddenly seen as a major threat both to the individual and to society at large? I guess this goes back to our earliest ancestors who came in two models: Optimists and Pessimists. Hearing a sound behind them, the former figured it was a coconut dropping and turned to have a bite while the latter, convinced it was one of those pesky cave bears, ran like hell. When the optimist was right, he enjoyed a tasty lunch…when he was wrong...he was a tasty lunch!

Fast-forward to today and what do you find? There are many more of us with genes tuned to things that can go wrong than to the possibility of a free feed.

Yet the truth is, when you come right down to it, we live in a time and place that, by past standards, would have to be considered pretty cushy.  Famines and plagues are finally a thing of the past. If anything, we have too much food and so much lifesaving medication that we've created a downright porky population planning to outlive Social Security. 

Similarly, the Cossack hoards have all ridden into the sunset and nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

So there's the rub. Human beings, genetically selected to anticipate the worst, are now getting into the habit of having to look around for trouble. They worry about, and actually perceive as a threat, the silliest things. Is the planet warming up or cooling down? Will the titmouse go the way of the dodo? How is the next generation ever going to pay off the national debt? I'm sorry but compared to the Black Death of 1350 and the Red Army of 1950 all those concerns are small potatoes indeed. I'm not saying that we're out of the woods for good, that a stray comet might not be headed our way, but for the time being at least why not relax and enjoy?

And what do I get for all my efforts at easing the minds of the masses and encouraging them to assume a happy face for a change? Abuse! I'm held up as perhaps the only blockhead on the planet who hasn't noticed that the sky is falling.

There are those who want me to know that Drugs are a problem and an equal number who want me to know that the War on Drugs is a problem. I say you guys should fight it out between yourselves.  One fellow actually wanted me to worry about those little sticky labels on apples with an adhesive that hasn’t been approved for human consumption. This reminds me of a chronically depressed patient who told me he couldn't be happy as long as there was one unhappy person in the world. Some people just gotta worry I guess.

Of course that big, bad power structure out to line its pockets at the cost of the common man is always good for a bit of angst.  So what else is new?  At least today the common man has enough left over for regular trips to Walmart. And what, pray tell, is he going to do with another flat screen TV anyway? The smart boys are always going to take their cut off the top...corporations or unions or congressmen or popes or kings.  But now at least there's a bigger chunk left over than is usually the case.

And our failing educational system is yet another cause for concern. The truth is, public schools (and even some private schools) aren’t so hot. But so what? Why would anyone think that schools have some sort of stranglehold on intellectual achievement? Haven't you ever heard that standard line from commencement exercises: "Now that you're about to can truly start to learn." It seems to me that people get to learn about as much as they try to learn and it has nothing to do with administrator to teacher to student ratios.

Look At It This Way

OK OK…I apologize for trying to cheer you up but things could be worse. People today have it better than even Egyptian Pharaohs and Roman Emperors and Renaissance Popes who got an impacted wisdom tooth and I could make countless other comparisons but forget it. If you're going to insist on whining, all I can say is: worry?

And if you're going to email me, at least make sure it's positive and uplifting.


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