I'm not usually much given to apocalyptic thinking: too self-absorbed, probably. In fact, I haven't really felt much in the way of pervasive dread since, I don't know, the Reagan administration, back when it seemed like they were bent on instigating a nuclear exchange with the Soviets. But lately the news has been so intensely and entirely bad—climate, economy, decline of the dollar, spiraling national debt, peak oil, bird flu, creeping fascism (those KBR detention facilities, the shiny new railroad cars with built-in shackles), anti-intellectualism, the immense stupidity of our political discourse, English 110, you name it—it's hard not to wonder what sort of world our kids will inherit. The climate thing is especially worrisome: it really seems that we've unleashed an incremental version of hell on the world; it's going to be bad, but there's no way to know how bad. Creeping fascism is worrisome, too: you have to think Cheney and Rove will do whatever it takes to keep a non-Hillary Democrat out of the White House.
And yet we're buying a mini-van that gets 21 MPG. There's something absurdly optimistic in that gesture. Or fatalistic, maybe. Call it Easter Island syndrome, I guess.