Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in 2019. One of several reasons to be anxious these days. (Yuri Kadobnov/Pool Photo via AP)

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in 2019. One of several reasons to be anxious these days. (Yuri Kadobnov/Pool Photo via AP)

Painful Truth: Too many spinning plates right now

It feels like there are at least half a dozen things that could crash down any moment

When I was a little kid, we worried that at any moment, some idiot in Washington D.C. or Moscow would mistake a computer glitch for an incoming fleet of missiles, and hit the button, and we’d all be radioactive ash before noon.

Then the Berlin Wall fell, and the Soviet Union crumbled, and there were McDonald’s franchises from the Czech Republic to Siberia. Things weren’t perfect, but we no longer worried about NATO and the Russians getting into a hot war.

The current military standoff between NATO and Russia over Ukraine (hopefully still a standoff when you read this column, or better still a withdrawal from the border) is bringing up some childhood memories, and not in a good way.

It’s already more than enough to deal with that there’s a major military and diplomatic standoff underway right now. That’s sufficient cause for anxiety all on its own. But of course, it’s not all. We’ve got a massive smorgasbord of stuff going on right now to keep us awake nights.

Here’s a short list of the things I’m still, also, worried about right this moment:

• COVID-19

Hey, remember the pandemic? It’s still happening! Given how many times we were told it was almost over, only to have our hopes dashed, I’m now expecting it to never end. We’ll just transition into ever more stupid and awful variants.

I do kind of wish the variants would be more creative. Maybe the next one also makes angry bees attack you, or it gives you two solid weeks of that nightmare where you’re back in high school, but you forgot to wear pants!

• Climate change

We just had a year in which a massive heatwave killed hundreds of British Columbians, followed by a record deep freeze. Oh, and the floods and fires and that tornado at UBC, to boot. Maybe this year we’ll finally get that massive Fraser River flood we’ve been fearing since 1948?

No matter what happens, we have the spectre of slow sea level rise to keep us company.

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• Economic meltdown

I never know how much to divide my economic fears up. Should I worry about the Canadian property bubble popping, or not popping? Is it part of the worldwide property bubble, or is Canada’s issue its own thing? Will a property price crash take down the stock markets, or vice versa? Should I be more worried about high inflation, or the stock market meltdown likely to follow a sharp increase in interest rates?

All I know is that when the prices of NFTs of ugly monkeys drop in value from six figures to zero, leaving their owners sobbing and rending their garments, I will take some time out of my day for a hearty laugh.

The thing about those crises is that they’re all connected. One crisis affects another, and may even cause another crisis to get worse.

The world is in plate-spinning mode, and the plates are crises, and we’re left to watch for signs of a wobble, waiting for them to fall, one at a time or all at once.


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