Why is it that every time period has in it something that will destroy us all. I was recently thinking about how many times we as the human race in general and Americans in specific have constantly had an eminent end-of-the-world (physical or otherwise) scenario. Just take a look at the last 25 years:
- The Cold War
- Nuclear Warfare
- Numerous natural disasters
- .com boom and fall
- Global Economic Disaster
All of these incidents have caused (at some point) wide-spread fear and chaos. Not to mention prejudices. Everybody all of a sudden has to run to get the boards to protect their house from the hurricane, or stop talking on cell phones, or listen into their neighbors’ phone conversations for fear that they may be Russian spies.
After Magic Johnson tested HIV positive, the NBA instituted a rule that whenever a player is bleeding, he must come out of the game and cannot come back in until the wound has been sealed. AIDS was something that scared people into thinking that the entire human race would be destroyed.
There was a short period in the last 25 years that did not have in it some major impending doom facing civilization. This was immediately following the end of the Cold War. In the early 1990s, when people were just getting used to the idea that they wouldn’t have to live in fear of being nuked, and have their bodies fused with their house, they realized something was missing – fear. Now that basically everything was behind them (including a major recession), there was a void.
So what did the world do to fill this void? They popularized “grunge.” The early 90s is when grunge became a fad, (and thankfully declined). The entire genre is based around sluggish guitar and depressing lyrics. Its popularity ended in the mid-90s when a new scare – Y2K – became “real.”
So why? What is this constant need for fear? Why is it that when a blizzard is approaching New York all I hear on the news is round-the-clock coverage on the storm? Why does Southern Florida TV cover nothing but hurricanes in the late summer? Why do people need fear to the point of generating it when it’s not there?
I think I have come to a conclusion, and I don’t think that it’s all that new of an idea. The one thing that fear does is bring anyone who shares that fear closer together. Take a look at what happened to this country post-9/11. Everyone had a sense of American pride; George Bush was cheered in New York (perhaps for the last time), throwing out the first pitch at the World Series; there was not a single person who didn’t want to go after Osama Bin Laden. Fear unites people. It’s less scary to go into a situation knowing that you aren’t alone, and it is very important to know that you aren’t alone in any situation – even when there’s nothing really there to be alone with.
In a not-so-recent conversation I had with a friend, he expressed his problem with marriage. “It makes no sense,” he told me. “Take religion out of it; forget that we have a mitzvah of p’ru ur’vu. Why would someone – not even a Jew – why would ANYONE want to commit the rest of his/her life to ONE OTHER PERSON?”
Well, here’s the answer. Life isn’t easy (duh). There is no better way to go through life than with another person. That person will face the same (if not, close to it) troubles and opportunities that you will face. That person will be there for emotional support or a good swift kick in the pants when you need ‘em. That person will be there to remind you that you aren’t alone. But most importantly, that person will make sure that you never EVER start listening to grunge.