While clearing away some old newspapers I came across an article published in the Observer in January by Tim Adams which explores the anxieties and fears curently engulfing western society in the face of the current financial crisis. One paragraph in particular sticks out:
“I was in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in September, an awfully long way from where our generally abundant nation was fretting about its mortgage extensions and its job prospects, and I wondered just how the people there – who had lived with war for 15 years – coped psychologically with the constant fears of their lives. Why weren’t they all on the verge of a nervous breakdown? How could they sit and laugh in the sun? The most plausible answer was that they did not have even the luxury of anxiety; their expectation of security had never extended much beyond the next hour or two. Anxiety is a disease of relative plenty; it arises not from fear at what you do not have, but fear of what you might lose.”
Probably of scant consolation to anyone who’s just lost their job, but it does put things into perspective.