Armageddon gets personal – by Deborah Levine

 Originally published in The Chattanooga Times Free Press

Editor-in-Chief Deborah J. Levine

These days, everyone I talk to sounds anxious, scared and miserable. My first reaction is sympathy and empathy, the way my mother taught me. My second reaction is relief, since misery loves company.  And when I feeling a bit guilty for that, I say to myself, “How can we not be?” Every time, I turn on the news, there’s another calamity. It feels like our world is  imploding and none of us will escape unscathed.

First there’s a sense of world disintegration with the mess in Afghanistan. Seeing thousands of folks trying to cram into the airport to leave – scary. Watching people clinging to planes to get out – horrifying. Hearing the fears of women for the future – words escape me.

And how about our ailing planet and the UN Intergovernmental Panel’s recent report that climate change is intensifying and accelerating? This former island girl broke out into a sweat over the first rainfall ever at Greenland’s frozen ice sheet, shedding water and raising sea levels. According to the report, these changes to our oceans are already “irreversible for centuries to millennia.”

Our mood doesn’t improve watching the mammoth destruction of Haiti’s earthquake and hearing reports of almost two thousand deaths. There’s a growing nervousness about our physical world. If you follow the wild fires in California that make the state look like a smokey Hell, you know what I mean. That’s especially true when you saw the smoke drift into Tennessee and hover over Signal Mountain. Not to mention the coughing and wheezing when you breathed it in.

We sometimes get relief by turning off the news, but the anxiety is embedded deep within is, especially over Covid and its Delta variant. Maybe that’s why folks are driving like nerve-wracked nut jobs. They speed, swerve and cut you off. And forget the Yield signs, because impatience, annoyance, and anger are the new normal for some drivers. Others just don’t see the signs. Their minds are elsewhere, trying to solve the unsolvable.

I think of myself as a calm, rational human being, but I’m fearful like everyone else. It really got to me when our mayor tested positive for Covid. He was vaccinated, but concerned about allergy-like symptoms, so he got tested. If you suffer from hay fever like me, you know that this time of year begins ’allergy alley’. Go outside and you sneeze. Stay outside and you wheeze. So I panicked.

The hubby called around for a Covid self-test kit only to find that most places were out of stock. When he finally did find a pharmacy with the test kits, the item got more expensive from when he picked it off the shelf, to when he got to the cashier a few minutes later.

The test shows that I’m fine. But I still adhere to the “better safe than sorry” philosophy.  Apparently, Abbott Laboratories which manufactures rapid self-tests, doesn’t have the same philosophy. Abbott figured it’s better to save a buck than plan for a surge. They threw out their stock, ceased manufacturing, laid off workers and made a mess. I pray for a dose of reality at Abbott, and all organizations hesitating over Covid.

Maybe Hamilton County’s Health Department heard my plea, because the next day it announced free self testing. Too late for me, but it’s a community saver. The takeaway? Be pro-active and make realistic plans, sooner rather later. Planning is life-saving, whether for Covid, Afghanistan, or the environment. And it’s a nerve calmer, too, a big plus in our road-rage world.


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