D.L. Stewart: Surviving the catastrophizing of America . . . again

America is doomed.

You don’t have to take my word for that. Just ask any of the zealots on either side of today’s political wall. The one thing upon which they can agree is that there never has been more to worry about in this country.

The Constitution is endangered like never before, they warn. The economy is out of control. Hordes of foreigners are invading. Racism is rampant. It’s not even safe for our children to go to school. So many horrible things are happening in this country we might as well pack our bags and move to Finland.

Syndicated columnist Jonah Goldberg summed it up succinctly in a recent essay.

“One of the worst annoyances of polarized politics is the way the fringes symbiotically feed off of each other,” he wrote. “Like bootleggers and Baptists both benefiting from blue laws, the extreme left and extreme right need each other to justify their catastrophizing,” (Putting “izing” at the ends of words — weaponizing, politicizing, demonizing) — is trendy today, just like putting “gate” at the ends of words was in the ‘70s.)

But I’m not ready to give up and move to Finland. For one thing, it’s too cold there for me.

Besides, I’m the product of parents who survived THE depression. A baby born during a year in which this country’s biggest challenge was the world war that happened to be raging at the time.

As a child I never worried about gunmen invading my elementary school. I was too busy learning how to cower under my desk with my arms over my head to protect myself from the Soviet Union’s nuclear missiles. Fortunately I always wore a dog tag on a chain around my neck so my parents could identify my remains. If any.

Foreign hordes? If people in my Cleveland neighborhood talked about them when I was a teenager they did it in German, Polish, Hungarian, Swedish and a dozen other languages.

Racial issues? In 1963, Alabama’s governor stood at a schoolhouse door proclaiming, “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Followed not just by demonstrations, but by actual riots.

Economy out of control? Since 1945 there have been 13 recessions. The one that began in 2007 caused the net worth of American households to plunge 20 percent.

These are, to be sure, not perfect times. But when have they been? During Vietnam? The Cuban missile crisis? Watergate? The assassinations of two Kennedys? 9/11? Somehow, the Constitution and the nation survived all those.

So my survival plan is to keep calm, remember the lessons of history and tune out the voices of baloneyizing.

Contact this columnist at dlstew_2000@yahoo.com.

About the Author