The waste of doom and gloom

PHOTO: Andreina Schoeberlein, Flickr CC

PHOTO: Andreina Schoeberlein, Flickr CC

Aaron J. Brown

Aaron J. Brown is an Iron Range blogger, author, radio producer and columnist for the Hibbing Daily Tribune.

“Come on, children
You’re acting like children
Every generation thinks
It’s the end of the world

“All you fat followers
Get fit fast
Every generation
Thinks it’s the last
Thinks it’s the end of the world”
~ “You Never Know” by the band Wilco

If you are reading this, you are going to die. Now that this cold fact is out of the way let me assure you the rest isn’t as bad as you think. In these 24-hour media-infused times, one can make an easy jump from simple mortality to the assertion that surely, the world will end with us.

The world has been ending my whole life. As I child, I remember the abject horror that came with the 1980s TV movie “The Day After.” In that film, nuclear war melted the nation, fiction based on the perceived threat of annihilation that ruled the Cold War. Since then, the world’s population exploded. Global climate changed. Terror was allowed to dictate policy of great nations. Every day, smart people raise serious questions about whether we’ll have enough water to support whole sections of our country. And “we” happen to be the richest country in the history of Earth. Other places actually need the water more.

Surely these problems are real. So, too, are the birds nesting underneath my deck. Like them, I could dedicate myself to my eggs and worms. I don’t have to take on the burden of other problems. But unlike most of nature, humans have choice. We can form societies. We have. We can keep societies going, too.

In 2000, many I know were convinced President Bush would cause the end of the world. In 2008, many others I know thought the same of President Obama. Today, those paying attention to politics this early in the 2016 cycle scrape off old bumper stickers, ready to decry the next threat to all we know.

Even here in Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range, economic decline has dominated the past 30 years. At this point there’s no reason to argue this observable reality, nor does anyone have any ability to reverse it. We simply find a painting washed away; a refreshed new canvas in front of us.

We hear a lot of talk about “resilience” these days; how resilient Iron Rangers are, for instance, or the human race in general. But the operative choice we all have in so-called resilience is whether we “take it,” or “take advantage of it.”

Are we merely going to accept that there are problems, or are we going to collectively address those problems using the strength of our collective ingenuity and labor?

I’ve advocated a number of opportunities over the year, most notably high speed internet for telecommuting, value-added natural resource products, and using quality of life as the chief attractor of new people, entrepreneurship and investment. In particular, I spend most of my time teaching people how to harness the ancient power of speech, and I create and share art in varied forms. But if you don’t like my ideas, surely you could replace them with your own.

An old saying goes that every crisis is also an opportunity. Typically, the end of one world is the beginning of another.

It’s true. We only have so much time in this world and that world is full of problems. That’s actually a good thing. We know that each action we take has consequence. All we can really do is dedicate this time, as the prayer says, “where there is darkness, to sow light,” to love others, and to satisfy a calling of useful purpose. Hard times will get better. By stepping out of the fog of doom and gloom, we can make these times better, faster.

Aaron J. Brown is an author and college instructor from northern Minnesota’s Iron Range. He writes the blog and hosts the Great Northern Radio Show on Northern Community Radio. This piece first appeared in the Sunday, June 14, 2015 edition of the Hibbing Daily Tribune.



  1. Ranger47 says

    Correct Aaron, we all have a choice to be happy or sad, pessimistic or optimistic, resilient or not… and it’s always best to choose the positive. However, it would be disingenuous to pass over so quickly and diminish the negative impact your president has had over the past 6+ years in comparison to any of his predecessors.

    A short list of B.O.’s legacy:
    • willingly relinquished the U.S. world leadership role
    • directly responsible for the creating the highest racial tensions since the ’60’s
    • led the poorest economic recovery in U.S. history
    • created the most polarized / divided electorate since the civil war
    • allowed the world to become the most dangerous it’s been since Reagan won the cold war
    • continually pits various groups of citizens against each other
    • set policies whereby we have the greatest number of people of working age who’re not working in the history of the U.S.
    • encouraged K-12 spending to the point of second highest per capita in the world, yet we continue to lose ground to the rest of the world in graduating kids, let alone graduating smart kids
    • etc., etc.

    Brushing over, implying presidential leadership has minimal impact on generational attitudes, that “it’s always been that way” regardless of presidential policies is simply argumentum ad antiquitatem and not true. B.O. has given good cause for folks to be just a bit despondent.

    That said, we agree – keeping our chins up is always the best path forward.

  2. Years ago your actions spoke much more loudly than your words. Many of us were told show us don’t tell us- don’t give me words give me results- shut your mouth and move your feet… Along with a hundred more sayings that were results orientated. Now it is how you feel about everything, don’t worry about my results just listen to my words. Now you hear- things might be really bad for you but don’t worry I feel terrible for you and will do something to help. Politicians have made a living off this. Hard to stay positive when the promises of folks you trust don’t come true. All that being said, you have to remain positive to achieve your goals. As my dear old Dad used to say: if you are waiting for someone else to make you healthy, wealthy and wise you’ll be sick, broke and stupid do it yourself. Words will never out do actions, that message gets lost in today’s world of feelings and words.

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