Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thanks for the Worries was written for the Concord Monitor a few years ago, and then included in my book Granite Grumblings (Snap Screen Press, 2011). It is still totally applicable today. I hope you have some fun with it.

I also ask that if you are enjoying this blog, please tell your friends. I have a very loyal following and I greatly appreciate you all, but it would be great to add to the group and with over 110 posts now, I think there might be something on here for almost everyone. It is amazing how a blog from New Hampshire can develop followers from Malaysia and China to Equador and France but that is one of the virtues of the internet. Thanks to all of you.

Glenn K. Currie

Thanks for the Worries

Recently my radio blared out at me with an advertisement for the treatment of a newly defined disease. It was described as “generalized anxiety syndrome”.

Upon further analysis it became clear that we were really talking about a fancy name for people who worry too much. I don’t classify this as a new illness since I’ve been suffering from it for years. Of course I didn’t know I had a disease. I thought I just worried too much. Now I can worry about a disease.

Even better, the advertiser says he has a new experimental drug to treat the disease. So I can also worry about whether I should take the drug. I can also worry about why, if this drug is so good, they are desperately advertising for volunteers. After all, almost everyone I know worries too much. And who can blame them.

Our national capability to worry is almost unlimited. And it is strongly reinforced by media that is not happy unless they are pushing the public panic button.

The material to do this is plentiful and I have put together just a small sampling of the basic equal-opportunity worries that assault our senses. I have purposely left off this list the really well-known concerns such as smoking, AIDS, Ebola, high blood pressure, cancer, etc., which are actual real worries. Instead, I am going to focus on the vaguer, hit and run issues that the media seem to assault us with on an almost daily basis.

First on the list is food. I don’t have a clue what I should be eating. It used to be that if it tasted good and was fattening, it was bad for you. If it had the flavor of cardboard, you could eat as much as you wanted.

There was lots of guidance from trusted authority figures. Do you remember when your mother told you to drink your milk? You just knew it was good for you. She never said “drink your Coke”. Life was simple.

Then came the media blitz, however, in which the nation’s favorite baby doctor and some cronies declared that milk was a national disaster. Every TV news show and newspaper in the country picked up the story and ran with it.

Of course, some might have been a little skeptical since Dr. Spock was also the guy responsible for the upbringing of all the bubble-headed idiots who became known as the Sixties Generation (of which I must confess to be one).

Dr. Spock, and a triumvirate of milk “experts”, hit us with a massive scare that left the milk industry in tatters, and then nothing. Nobody gave us alternatives, (except breast milk, which is a little tough to come by for a fifty-year-old). And nobody had the courage to step up and tell us that these guys were a couple of pints short of a quart. Instead the subject just suddenly disappeared from the news. It was a hit and run attack on milk that left us worrying without resolution.

Milk is not alone among foods to worry about, however. Sometime over the last couple of decades, the following foods have been declared dangerous to consume: tomatoes, cranberries, grapes, apples, sugar, salt, chicken, beef, all dairy products, swordfish, all processed foods, anything wrapped in plastic, margarine, peanut butter, chocolate, white flour, happy meals and coffee, to name just a few.

That covers almost everything I like, and I know I’ve missed a lot. There’s also some stuff I’m not sure about. Oat bran used to be good, then it was bad or neutral. I don’t know. I don’t care.

But let’s not focus on food worries. There’s a whole smorgasboard of stuff to get us into a panic.
1) Air and water (loaded with pollutants)
2) Sunshine (UV exposure)
3) Televisions, microwaves, electric blankets (radiation)
4) Cell phones (brain cancer)
5) Male pattern baldness (heart attacks)
6) Breast implants (silicone)
7) Charlie Sheen raising children
The list is endless.

So what’s the solution? I’m not sure, but I suspect it doesn’t start with taking some experimental drug, unless you want to know what you’ll be worrying about next.

 Basically, it seems we all need to lighten up a little. Maybe the media need to stop the hit and run attacks. Perhaps they should even consider the source, before they start publishing allegations. After all, in this country you can get some loony tune to make any kind of absurd statement, and if it is repeated enough in the right places, it will achieve some level of credibility.

There are also some things we might be better off not knowing. What am I going to do about it, even if it is true that losing my hair makes me a higher risk candidate for a heart attack. The ensuing anxiety probably jumps my odds another 100 percent.

The public also needs to use a little common sense. (I know this is a toughie). I mean guys were calling their doctors after the news came out to see if they could eliminate the heart attack threat by having a hair transplant. Maybe a head transplant would work.

As for the food issues, maybe we should go back to eating what we like. We’re going to worry about it anyway, so at least let’s have a good time If it turns out we did eat the wrong thing, we can always clean the system out real good by turning on C-Span and watching Washington politics at work. Now that is something to worry about.

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