The Nature of Panic

Panic is the over-reaction to a threat, whether real or imagined.  Persons with anxiety disorders are most prone to this emotional condition though it may also be spread through crowds, fed by the words or actions of others.  Throughout human society, panic may be induced by zealous news organizations that, in this highly competitive, 24/7 play for our attention, constantly repeat the global threats of the day, thereby placing too much emphasis on their significance.

In recent weeks, the ebola outbreak in West Africa and the spread of ISIS in the Middle East have garnered such coverage.  While both are serious problems that warrant attention and careful planning, their threat to distant countries has, in my opinion, been greatly exaggerated.  Though ebola is a deadly virus, it is not highly contagious and can be easily controlled in regions with modern medical facilities.  When it comes to ISIS, the savage jihadist organization, a coordinated international economic and military response seems to be appropriate but their threat to distant nations, hailed by the usual circle of war hawks, has been overplayed for political purposes.  It seems to me that the wide availability of assault weapons in the U.S. poses a far greater risk to Americans than the return of ISIS combatants from the battlefield; we have plenty of extremists in this country already.

Indeed, panic is both an individual psychological disorder and a political tool.  Counseling and medications might be of help for those with anxiety and all of us are best served by seeking news from organizations that offer a calm, thorough analysis of major issues; PBS and the BBC are my preferred sources.