I have seen and heard more than a few stories in the past week in which people fall unaccountably ill for a few hours. I have heard of this happening among my personal friends and among people spread out around the world. I have been relatively well myself, in spite of an inhuman work schedule (or perhaps because of it), but I have suffered a couple of sleepless nights lately, a rare occurrence for me and something else that is hard to explain.
It seems to me that the extraordinary global stress of the current period is taking its toll. The stresses are hard to escape. If you are not affected by the radioactive food being found on a daily basis in Japan or the radioactive milk and mushrooms on the U.S. West Coast, then likely you know someone affected by the riots in London and across England or the military attacks on cities in Syria. If the inaction on the U.S. debt ceiling seemed like an abstraction, the stock market crash that has followed its resolution may affect you more personally. If you are not one of the people set to lose their jobs in the upcoming corporate layoffs, then perhaps you have money in a bank that is putting its future and your money in jeopardy by not laying people off fast enough. These are the kinds of uncertainties that make people say, “What’s going to happen to us?” The worry has an inevitable effect on people, particularly when one troubling report comes on top of another. It is no wonder if people eventually feel exhausted.
Trying times have happened before, of course, but I can’t think of a historical period to compare to this one, with difficulties and uncertainties affecting people on all sides of the world at once. Part of it is that everyday economic activities are more global than before, but that doesn’t begin to explain it. At any rate, we cannot use the past as much of a guide; it is up to us to figure out what to do.