I can feel the dread, the despair, the fear, the anguish, and the yearning. I hear it in questions I get from family and friends. I read it in the comments posted here and elsewhere online. And I have been around long enough to sense it in the tenor and trembles of our fraught moment. If doomscrolling were an Olympic sport, many of us would be festooned with gold.
This is an age of deep and warranted anxiety. Threats to the stability upon which many of us have constructed our lives — and perhaps even more troubling, our expectations — are crescendoing with a cacophony of distress.
There will always be the challenges that upend our hopes and dreams at the individual level: the illnesses, accidents, and myriad other personal and professional disappointments. But this is something different. This is a chaotic world that feels like it is flooding in from multiple fissures in the foundation of our society. It can be measured in pandemic deaths, rising global temperatures, persistent injustice, and here in the United States, a country unmoored from what many of us saw as a fitful but ultimately reliable path toward progress. There was once widespread belief that an entrenched commitment to American democracy, as imperfect as that may have been, was nonetheless a system capable of rejuvenation. That now feels like a bet on the future that is no longer assured.