Are these the worst of times?

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

“A Tale of Two Cities” – the opening line – Charles Dickens – 1859

Two wars. A fired commanding General. An economy that is stubbornly refusing to recover fast enough. A massive oil spill that threatens our Gulf. Illegal immigration. No progress on Gay Rights to speak of. Conflicts in the Middle East. Tin-pot dictators run amok. Global financial crisis. Congress in perpetual gridlock. Fred Phelps and the Phelp Tone-Deaf’s. Drug wars in Jamaica and Mexico. Global freakin’ warming. Sandra and Jesse back on speaking terms.

Are these the worst of times?

Hell, no!

Absolutely not. Yes, the world has more than it’s fair share of problems right about now, but these are far from the worst of times. It is human nature to look at today and be dissatisfied. It is also human nature to look at yesterday with a certain fondness for times that “were better.”

I wrote a column published yesterday with that very topic.

No, despite the troubles of the world, we have a bright future. We may not get there soon, but it is there. Collectively, we need to move beyond pessimism and consider the optimistic signs that point the way to a “best of times” scenario.

The wars that we are engaged in will end. We will recover from the global financial  crisis. The oil gushing in the Gulf will be stopped and we will find away to clean up the mess. The tin-pot dictators will die off and be replaced by slightly more sane alternatives. The slow progress of Gay Rights will accelerate as the more bigoted generation dies off. The illegal immigration problem will continue, but better solutions will come to the fore. Fred will die. Eventually, a saner approach to drugs will be adopted. And Jesse will screw up again and America’s Sweetheart will be back on the market.

Progress has been made, abet slowly. A historic, but flawed, Health Care bill has been passed. Medical science has moved to the point now that living to one hundred will be commonplace. The world will grow tired of perpetual conflicts in the Middle East and the white-hot hatred will cool. The world will change for the better.

The best of times – maybe not in our lifetimes – but they are coming.

William Stephenson Clark


Filed under Psychological Disorders, World Politics

21 responses to “Are these the worst of times?

  1. WSClark

    The usual statement is “you can the glass as half full or you can see the glass as half empty.”

    I change it up a bit, “you can see the glass as half full, or you can see the glass as broken.”

    In my not so humble opinion, far too many see the “glass as broken.”

    A pessimistic attitude tends to be self-fulfilling.

  2. These are not the worst of times! We’re making some progress, and more will be made. Things are lookin’ up!

  3. WSClark

    Not to diminish 9/11 in the least, I have to take exception when it is called the worst attack on American soil.

    Pearl Harbor launched us into a World War that saw over 400,000 Americans die, in a war that saw 60 million people die worldwide.

    There have been worst times in American history, but it seems that we are often too fixated on ourselves at the expense of a full understanding of history.

    • Will,

      As much as I also take exception to the referenced remark, technically it is correct. Pearl Harbor attack; the attack itself was in Hawaii, at a time when Hawaii was an American Territory. The total American combat deaths in World War II (with the exception of any that occurred in the battle in the Aleutians in 1942, and at Pearl, if we accept that territories are “American soil”) occurred either in Europe or in the Pacific Theater.

      That said, I agree with your ultimate thought.

      • WSClark

        You are correct, 6176, technically, Pearl Harbor was not American soil and that is the response I usually get if I mention 12/07/’41 to 09/11/’01.

  4. I wonder how many people have died as a result of the economic collapse that began “officially” in America, during the fourth quarter of 2007?


  5. As to the question posed in the “header”, the answer depends upon who is asked. If the respondent is one who has lost a job which will not be reappearing once the economy is “better”, and said person cannot find other employment due to lack of education, inability to retrain, or any other reason, the answer is likely to be “yes”.

    I try to be optimistic, but realistic. I think the flawed steps towards “health care reform” will be immediately negated if the GOP obtains a 60 seat majority in the Senate and a majority in the House in the 2010 elections. There will not be any real immigration reform unless and until the demand for cheap labor is sated, or the cost of such labor is made high enough to discourage its use.

    There is much more to discuss, but duty calls.

  6. itolduso

    These are definatly NOT the worst of times. My father lived in SW Missourri in the time of the great depression, He lived thru the massive war effort of WW2, where maybe we had a better sense of purpose and unity, but where far more families were “GOLD STAR” families, I remember all the social unrest and rioting in the 70s, the financial distress of the Carter years, and on and on. Generally, I am doing okay. More importantly, my kids are doing better than I was doing at their age, people as a whole (at least in the midwest) are doing better financially than then, More people have insurance than then, I have air conditioning, etc. Cars last far longer than the 100k limit to junkdum that they used to last to. Materially, I think things are far better than they were when I was growing up. sociopolitically, , I think we are better. Minorities have far greater opportunities, as do women.

    I do think we have lots some things too. General decency, and the willingness to help each other out in times of trouble. And I don’t mean by government program, I mean by individuals. Volunteerism is down, and I think that government dependence is up. Education is learning less and less about more and more. In many ways, our students are now some of the brightest, yet least educated in a generation or two.

    But we are on the rise, and can and will do better.

    • WSClark

      One thing that bothers me, I Told (not that it comes from you) is that folks that decry America’s place in the world and our “demise.”

      Maybe it is a little naive and even immature on my part, but I just don’t see that and it makes me bristle when I hear people say that we “used to be great.”

      We are great. The greatest country ever on the face of the Earth.

      Sure, there are no beaches at Normandy to storm, no Iwo Jima’s to wrestle control of, no frontiers to be conquered.

      As Americans, we rise to the challenge – we always have and always will.

      • itolduso

        I agree. I do not agree with our present course in the political arena, but that does not lessen my feelings toward this country. We are STILL GREAT!! This IS the greatest country on the face of the planet. The political pendulum swings back and forth. BUT because it does, in a peaceful, mostly nonviolent fashion, (though often very Raucous) makes almost unique throughout the world. We still, for all our flaws, help more people throughout the world in times of distress, than anybody else. We are good. And we can always be better.

      • WSClark

        You are correct, I Told, we can ALWAYS be better and we should never stop trying to be better.

        I love this country and I am damned proud of her.

        Like the song, “this is my country.”

      • I would like to think that what people mean by “used to be” is that we used to be more aware of what was going on around us. I feel that a large part of the population is not really aware of the world around them. I may be wrong and if I am that is great news. Also, I just wanted to add that there are frontiers to be conquered. We have not yet explored every inch of our planet. Just something that a lot of us don’t think about.

      • Hi Sleytek, welcome to PPPs. Thanks for sharing your opinion. I visited your blog, looks like you’re new to WordPress.

    • Gotta step in and correct this…
      “Volunteerism is down…”

      Not according to this report:

      1.6 million more Americans volunteered in 2009 Tuesday Jun 15, 2010
      Amid rough economic times, more Americans volunteered in their communities last year than at any time since 2005, according to a federal report.

      To read the full article go here…

      • indypendent

        Whenever I hear about volunteerism, it never fails that some Social Conservative Republican has to brag that more Republicans than Democrats volunteer.

        Just why is it that Republicans feel the need to feel superior to everyone else?

        We should be thankful for all who volunteer and not even ask if they are Republicans or Democrats or supporters of Mickey Mouse.

  7. Least we ain’t being guillotined.

  8. Freebird1971

    I really feel sorry for all the doom and gloomers. It must really suck to go around all day and not have one positive thing to say about this country. Itold you I am in agreement with you for the most part about our political direction,but I have faith that the American people are smart enough to realize that when we lean too far to either extreme we will set it back on course.We as a country have always fought back when times got hard and I see no indication of that changing in the foreseeable future.

    One of the things that gives me the most hope for our future are the brave men and women who volunteered to serve in our Armed Forces knowing the risks they were going to be taking when they enlisted. As long as we have people like them this country is going to be just fine.

  9. indypendent

    If our country is to remain great, then we need to get back to a balance of corporate and labor. What I mean by that is that for the last 3 decades, our government has given way too much emphasis on the enrichment of corporations to the detriment of the working class.

    Whenever there were tax cuts, they were given to the wealthy/corporations on the premise that these were the people that created jobs.

    Well – where are those jobs? These people still get subsidies and tax breaks funded by taxpayer dollars but yet they outsource American jobs so they can enrich the CEO’s paycheck and bonuses and the stockholders don’t care because they are getting their cut of the pie.

    The illegal immigration problem is a huge mess that we need to get a grip on – but, again, I see corporations being given the green light to go ahead and exploit the cheap labor because all the emphasis is on making that extra dime in profit.

    No matter what your politics, if there are not enough jobs for the Americans to even survive – then what does it really matter if Republicans profess to be morally superior and fiscally responsible and Democrats profess to be so progressive?

    At the end of the day, when there is no paycheck coming into the millions of households, there will be a day of reckoning that is not going to be pretty.

    Now, let’s talk about the wars the US has been involved in. Iraq was a joke – Bush spent trillions (yes, trillions because he kept it off budget) and what did we get for it? Bush said the war costs would be paid for by the sale of the Iraqi oil. Well, don’t look now but Russia and China got the rights to that oil. And the Iraqi Prime Minister went over to Iran to become best friends with the crazy Iranian President – and while our soldiers were still fighting for the Iraqi so-called democracy. What a crock!

    Afghanistan is now thought to have trillions dollars worth of mineral resources and already the Wall Street fat cats are sending in their teams to scout out the place. So are we in Afghanistan for the reason to root out the Taliban and to bring democracy or are we going to be in Afghanistan for our soldiers to provide safety escorts to some fat cats from Wall Street?

    Sounds kinda like the Iraq War when our US soldiers were the personal escort babysitters for the private contractors who were getting rich off the the taxpayer dime – AGAIN.

    I don’t agree with the Democrats all the time but at least they are not hypocrits like the Republicans who sit and smirk about how righteous they are and how freedom-loving they are. No, they love the money and that is it.

    Mark my words – when Republicans get back in – and they will because the political pendulum does swing – the Republicans will be spending all the taxpayer money that we don’t have from people who don’t have jobs faster than Obama ever dreamed of doing. And all the time the Republicans will be dressed in an Uncle Sam suit, singing I’m A Yankee Doodle Dandy, waving the flag and thumping a damn Bible.

    As for this BP oil spill – maybe this is Mother Earth telling us to stop drilling so damn deep. Maybe she is telling us she is in charge – not some damn yokels chanting drill, baby, drill.

    And no matter if these are the worst of times or not – they are pretty bad and if we don’t get a clue real soon as to tell both the radical right and looney left to shut the f___k up, then we deserve what we get.

    And I suspect if Republicans get back in, we will get just that – more wars and federal spending that will make your head spin.

  10. Thunderchild

    When I heard that they were retiring the space shuttle with no immediately available replacement vehicle, I became firmly convinced that this nation’s best days are behind it.

    I have it worse than my parents did. My son will be the SECOND generation to know that. I see almost nothing to convince me that these are not indeed the worst of times with only worse to come. I DID have some hope that the Democrats would bring us back Government that works and begin to restore our country as FDR once did.

    But that hope is rapidly fading.

  11. I missed you, Indy! Welcome back! 😉

  12. Yes fnord I am new here. This is something that I have been meaning to do for a long time. Thanks for checking out my blog.