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Interesting Times

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May you live in interesting times" is an English expression which purports to be a translation of a traditional Chinese curse. While seemingly a blessing, the expression is normally used ironically; life is better in "uninteresting times" of peace and tranquility than in "interesting" ones, which are usually times of trouble.

The Chinese word for "crisis" is frequently invoked in Western motivational speaking as being composed of two Chinese characters signifying "danger" and "opportunity" respectively.

It is a foregone conclusion that we in America live in interesting times, with events that contain both danger and opportunity, and have been for much of the 20th century, and into the first two decades of the new millennium.

Wars, fires, floods and now various plagues, worldwide, are seemingly the order of the day—nothing new here. To want situations to be other than they are—to make sense of what appears to be the "reality"—is wishful thinking. Yet, we are all human beings, with the need (perhaps fantasy) that we can actually control our environment, no less our thoughts and behaviors. It is wired into us, it is our survival instinct. If it has not yet become apparent throughout history that all civilizations have been the "victims" of these occurrences, then perhaps now a lesson can be learned.

But to focus only on the crises these events fostered, rather than to see the opportunities that developed as a result of them, would be a mistake. Simply stated: no wars, no peace treaties; no floods, no dikes; no illnesses, no cures; no poverty, no social and economic reforms; etc., etc. ...

We will get through this. But it will take its toll, no doubt, in peoples' lives in countless ways. There will be blame enough to be shared by all looking back, and presently. The question is not whether we will live in interesting times in the future—we will! The answer will be that we see this event and future events not as crises, but as opportunities!

E.G. Singer lives in Santa Rosa. We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write openmic@bohemian.com.

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