Reading more from the Utne articles about choices, I found other interesting connections that I have discussed separately in my journal in and in class. Karen Olson admits the cause of out anxiety may be cultural or it may be fear. Phillip Moffitt of the Yoga Journal coined the post-September 11 societal climate as an Age of Fear.
My mom is a psychologist who is completing her doctoral thesis on post-traumatic stress disorder. Her take on this goes beyond the definitions I (and perhaps others) assume that it is a post war disorder, discovered or studies primarily in veteran soldiers. She takes it further account for victims of child abuse (physical, sexual, and emotional), car accident survivors, those who have experienced the death of a loved one, divorce or any other significantly traumatic event. Friends and I were discussing this and the tie to September 11th, that the entire country is likely suffering from the traumatic event of that day, from the atrocity our government’s response, from the fact that the worldwide protests against the war in Iraq were dismissed, and we can be described as suffering from this in the form of post-traumatic stress disorder. If you have never read about post-traumatic stress disorder cases (I’m thinking of my own experience just from watching a war movie once), imagine a victim incapable of normal daily communication function, suffering from outburst of emotion, flashbacks, nightmares, etc., living in fear of their memories and experience. This seems to be where many of us are today. Helpless. Helplessly hoping that some vague movement of truth will prevail that will give us a new president in the next election (at least this is what my group of friends were discussing). But the vague feeling exists I think on a larger scale. People are traumatized to the point where they cannot find solutions. The ultimate suffering might be that we hope, but we have lost the ability to know how achieve results.
That seems to match the state the Karen Olson describes, that our multiplicity of choice has caused so much anxiety, that not making a decision gives the impression of weakness. It is in a sense a weakness. But to view that weakness as a negative trait is characteristic of and compounds the problem itself.