The summertime blues

Monday, August 27, 2007 | 12:50 p.m. CDT; updated 7:57 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I take a lot of friendly harassment when the temperature climbs above 100 degrees and stays that way for several days. My intense hatred of cold weather seems to be common knowledge. The truth is, all the horror stories in my life that I can remember happened when it was freezing and the snow was 5 feet high. So, it’s really not that I don’t ever get too warm, it’s just that compared to 10 below zero, I prefer to live with the heat.

Still, this has not been an ideal summer. There has been a certain restlessness lurking beneath the surface that seems to govern people’s actions. It seems like more and more people are anticipating some kind of breaking of their peace.

Certainly, there’s enough bad news to go around, but everybody knows things have been worse. There have been disease epidemics and the Great Depression, to name a few seasons of despair. If I had to define the mood most of my friends and acquaintances are experiencing, I would call it trouble of the spirit. It’s the kind of thing where one’s life seems to be on hold, waiting for the next disturbing episode to occur.

For some, it’s the financial picture that’s holding them hostage. Looking forward to the rising rate of an adjustable mortgage at the time increased college tuition costs are looming overhead can make for sleepless nights. And if wages have remained stagnant, just getting out of bed in the morning can be a challenge to the will. Plus, it’s absolutely amazing how the high cost of dairy products at the supermarket and gasoline at the pump can overturn a budget that’s already reeling.

Those with chronic illnesses facing frequent hospital stays and rising health care costs and insurance payments are feeling overwhelmed. The tragedy of the Kansas City man who murdered his wife because he could not afford her medical ills speaks of the desperation some are feeling when confronted with these kinds of situations. Every day one reads of benefit events that many churches and organizations are sponsoring to help support members, friends and neighbors who are caught in a medical crisis. That tells us that all the victims of this catastrophic reality don’t all live in someone else’s neighborhood.

Family and friends of troops on overseas duty in Iraq and Afghanistan feel stressed to the brink by frequent and long absences of their loved ones and fear for their well-being. We hear stories of children being abused by mothers, overwrought with the increased responsibilities of single parenthood. Many of the injured troops have long, painful recuperations which they have to face alone because some families have to remain far away for jobs and other encumbrances.

Individuals living with family members who are victims of an addiction, whether to food, drugs, nicotine or alcohol, also have their share of problems. The availability of medical information does not ease the mind. Those who have a spouse, a child or a parent who is addicted are especially vulnerable in the sense that the safety and security of the entire household is likely to affected by the addict’s behavior.

It’s certainly understandable that so many people feel that they are standing on a loaded mine and waiting for the explosion. I know one woman who is so fearful that since the Minneapolis highway collapse, she refuses to travel anywhere she may have to go over a large body of water. Nevertheless, there are many who take it all in stride. The War in Iraq will end, Wall Street will settle down, the bank will not foreclose, and no one in our family will get sick from eating food imported from China and none of our children will get sick from lead painted toys, they are apt to say.

And you know, I would like to believe them. Except I’m not willing to buy sand to cover my head up. It’s too hard to clean out of your hair. Perhaps if these people were not all rich or politicians who don’t really have to care about what happens to America since they can all move to another country, I don’t trust their judgment.

Don’t you wonder what would happen if our elected representatives had to live like average Americans? Do they know or care how much a dozen eggs or a gallon of milk costs? They and their families have the best of health care plans, so do you think they have any idea what many people experience when they have to be hospitalized? Sometimes I believe that.

If all the elected officials would resign, the civil servants could run the country just fine. All except the Department of Justice, that is. I’m not sure that all those law graduates from Regent University could handle it. According to the experts, some law schools are a lot better than other law schools.

In any case, I think what the country needs now is a hearty dose of cheer. It’s too bad it’s too early for Christmas. Maybe the only thing we can do is be good to each other, smile whenever we can and try to make the best of every situation.

Nothing lasts forever.

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