One Mann's Opinion

I think it's apocryphal that I am writing this on the Ides of March. I can't recall a time of greater stress and feelings of helplessness and negativity during my lifetime. Even during the '60s, with the Vietnam War and race riots, there was always a feeling of great energy and anticipation for the future. We had events, ideas and people that stimulated and challenged us. We had the Kennedy's, Woodstock, the race to the Moon and, of course, the '69 Mets. Maybe it was the naivite of youth or just the raging hormones. You were always excited and energized about what the next day would bring.

Now, we are constantly faced with events that could undermine the very foundation of our society. Everyday, we face the implications of terrorism, war, religious hatred, the Stock Market meltdown, recession, downsizing, and unemployment. New ominous sounding terms such as weapons of mass destruction, al-Qaeda and jihad have become part of our vernacular.

For the first time in my memory, our country is no longer the global beacon of hope and freedom. We are now vilified and considered bullies. Didn't we learn anything from the Vietnam War? History has shown that we can foster global change by exporting our political, economic and moral values not via military power. We need trading partners not Coalition partners to promote long term global economic stability and peace.

Our government fosters policies that ignore systemic problems in our economy. As evidenced by the high interest rates and deficits of the '80s, trickle down tax cuts do not work. Our leaders are oblivious that entire industries that we created along with the associated high paying jobs are moving offshore to Asia. A recent published report stated that the US lost over 500,000 Information Technology jobs between 2001 and 2002 alone. How long will the global hegemony of the US continue when all we produce are movies and bombs?

We now live vicariously through pseudo-reality shows on TV. Is this because our own reality is too difficult to deal with? Why are shows about death and dysfunctional families like the "Sopranos"and "Six Feet Under" so popular?

Yet, we must go on. I realize now more than ever that we can't rely on external factors for happiness. We must look within ourselves for hope. We must truly live within the moment and not worry about things out of our control.

This was reaffirmed just today. I witnessed three thousand people gladly pay $100 (it went to a local charity) to participate in the annual polar bear plunge. Entire families ran into and then quickly exited the thirty-nine degree ocean water. Yet smiles abounded. No one was thinking about war and death.

I started the day by running along the ocean under a cloudless sky with Springsteen on my CD player:

Hard times, baby well they come to us all,
Sure as the tickin' of the clock on the wall
Sure as the turnin' of the night into day
Your smile girl, brings the mornin' light to my eyes
Lifts away the blues when I rise
I hope that you're coming to stay

I'm waitin', waitin' on a sunny day
Gonna chase the clouds away
Waitin' on a sunny day"

Bruce Springsteen-The Rising

Well it's just one Mann's opinion!

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