The Digital Journalist
No Escape

by Beverly Spicer

News junkies, philosophers, comedians and kings: all who are riveted to national and international theater have found little escape from intense drama as we continue to have daily revelations of the otherworldly kind. Just when pundits are talking turnaround, progress, even drawdown, another shoe drops from this centipedinous creature that is roaming through our lives. Even the most conservative among us are starting to raise eyebrows, and the liberals who were already half-mad are now full-tilt over the edge. A friend and former English literature teacher described it this way, as if talking about a football game: "How 'bout that world situation?" to which he added, "High drama that could not be written better by Shakespeare himself." A tragicomedy neither more tragic nor more comedic had the Bard penned it by his own immensely imaginative hand. Passion, struggle, death, conspiracy, satire, irony, wit - this one has everything, with the possible exception of wisdom. America is turning blue in the face and poor Scott McClellan has a lot of splainin' to do, as evidenced by this photo illustration of everybody's favorite White House press secretary from Monk of Inflatable Dartboard.

As for me, thinking about the concept of equanimity discussed in November's "E-Bits" has calmed me down from the kind of looming insecurity I sometimes feel - that we are on several runaway trains, roaring like lightning down multiple tracks to nowhere, whether the hoped-for destination is peace, economic stability, homeland security, resolution of the war in Iraq and problems in the Middle East, or addressing humanitarian and environmental issues here at home or the world over. It's a Blitzkrieg - a lightning war. The concept of lightning conjures up all sorts of thoughts, but real lightning comes in many forms. For those of you not familiar with the ability of Google Images to serve up multiple photographs instantly, click on the image below to explore pages and pages of electrical phenomena. Clicking on the individual thumbnails will take you to enlargements and far distant sites. For the more traditionally minded, see NOAA's National Severe Storms Laboratory Collection.

As these stunning storms and electrical surges, both real and metaphorical, continue (which, by the way, fried my computer a week ago), damage mounts and the accumulation is terrific, and I do not mean "terrific" in a positive sense. We have mounting death tolls from the war in Iraq, casualties from earthquakes in Asia, Japan and again in Sumatra, and some evacuees returning to New Orleans are discovering three-month-old corpses of loved ones in their attics, bodies that even repeated official searches failed to find. In the Crescent City and all along the Gulf, we are seeing enormous mountains of debris, all piled up with nowhere to go; staggering debt is compounding as massive expense and deficit climb out of sight; and there is colossal political fallout of every persuasion, arguably not seen since the 1970s. There seems to be no escape, even for the most protected and insulated among us, as evidenced by President Bush's most charming and best-ever metaphorical moment, seen recently in China as he said, "I was trying to escape. It didn't work."

As we become increasingly mesmerized by reams of spin in every possible mode of communication, no one can distinguish fantasy from reality any more, even on the most pressing issues we used to think were solidly based in science. On the bright side, leave it to our old friend Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, to attack Global Warming with four Republican congressmen, who together clear up the issue in the following video.

Even if the pharmaceutical companies are in trouble for foisting dangerous prescription drugs on an unsuspecting public, we still know that laughter really is good medicine, and there's nothing like our animators, cartoonists, and spoofologists of every kind to lighten our mood during dire times. If we cannot meditate our way to equanimity, maybe we can laugh ourselves there. Here Pat Oliphant pokes a little fun at the latest ultra-threatening, paralytically fear-inducing, spun-to-the-max horror on the horizon, pandemic Avian flu.

Here's hoping that in spite of a world of woe, by holding our hearts open, exercising kindness and compassion, and laughing much and often, we all will have a joyful holiday season and end to 2005. See you in the New Year.

© Beverly Spicer

Beverly Spicer is a writer, photojournalist, and cartoonist, who faithfully chronicled The International Photo Congresses in Rockport, Maine, from 1987 to 1991. Her book, THE KA'BAH: RHYTHMS OF CULTURE, FAITH AND PHYSIOLOGY, was published in 2003 by University Press of America. She lives in Austin.

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