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King: Has a curse been placed on society?
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"For everything there is a season..." — Ecclesiastes 3

"Things fall apart, the center cannot hold..." — William Butler Yeats

My husband and I are of a certain age - a certain season. Things are falling apart. I've had a lingering respiratory problem. My husband is plagued with multiple skin cancers. The hot water heater sprang a leak and had to be replaced. The refrigerator started to beep. That's what many of our fancy machines do they're tired and about to quit.

Actually our fridge does this every summer. It doesn't like hot weather. It is a beautiful top-of-the-line model, and I suppose the manufactures thought people who bought this particular refrigerator would naturally have air conditioning. We don't, and when the temperature gets above 80, the fridge starts to complain. The "call-service" light comes on, the ice begins to melt and the fridge starts its infernal beeping.

We've had to call the serviceman at least 12 times in the last few years. With our extended warranty it doesn't cost anything, but each time I have to stay home all day waiting for the man to show up. He finds a part that has to be replaced and says he will return when it comes in.

This means another 8-to-5, hang-around-and-wait. The other day the man informed me the needed part was no longer being manufactured, but good news! The company had a "lemon" policy, and since we'd had so many breakdowns, we were entitled to a new fridge.

I skipped down to Gainesville and picked out a gorgeous new two-door. What fun, but as you may have guessed by now, this is a case of good news / bad news. The new fridge won't be available until late July. Meanwhile everything in the old fridge went bad and started to smell. A good cleaning didn't help. Some of the nasty stuff must have leaked down into the cracks.

Then we discovered a drip-drip-dripping in the upstairs bathroom. Our local fix-it guy took a look. Bad news. He would have to tear out a wall to get to the source. He did and discovered black mold behind the sheetrock. Dangerous stuff and probably the reason I've been sick.

An environmental specialist was called; drastic measures were prescribed. The mold had penetrated the sub-flooring which must now be removed. Listening to these two men deliver bad news reminded me of the family doctor conferring with a specialist and saying, "It's got to come out!"

I told myself it was really good news because it not only explained my breathing problem, it was the house sub-flooring that had to come out, not some part of my anatomy. Then more bad news: another pipe in the basement ruptured. The whole house would have to be replumbed.

Why this long tale of woe? In another age people would say we'd been cursed. In our more enlighten era it's simply the season for breakdown and change. Sometimes it's personal, sometimes it's nationwide, sometimes worldwide. We build up; we fall apart. Old structures, old systems are cracking. It is not a conspiracy. It is the natural consequence of time and technology.

Today our various systems - social, economic, culture - are all stressed in ways we never imagined. We have entered a new era. However, in an effort to make sense out of a world that is becoming more complicated and confusing every day, many people are seeing something dark and nefarious instead of a natural cycle. The world has gone wrong, and we are being punished.

The result is a rise in conspiracy theories. They are easy fodder for talk shows and alternative media sources, but they undermine our social structure. They divide the world into the good and the bad, and this bleeds over into politics. It encourages distrust in everything and everybody who doesn't share a single view of reality. And this indeed is bad news.

Joan King lives in Sautee. Her column appears biweekly on Tuesdays and on gainesvilletimes.com.

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