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Front Page » August 16, 2011 » Opinion » Want to be certain? Choose uncertainty
Published 1,132 days ago

Want to be certain? Choose uncertainty


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

Lately we have heard a lot on broadcast news about uncertainty.

The stock market is uncertain. Our government is uncertain. Our politicians are uncertain. You and I are uncertain.

Personally, I am not sure why I would be more uncertain now than I was say five or 10 years ago. Or for that matter at any other time in my life.

I hate that term, uncertain. It means we don't know what is going to happen. But do we ever really know that?

I just think it is a silly word. When were any of us ever really certain about most things? Oh sure, we sometimes have the feeling we know things are going to happen one way or another, or we think we know the truth about something. But do we really?

Think about it. How many of us out there thought that Sept. 11, 2001 would just be another sunny September day? The fact is the majority of people were certain of it. Hopefully most of us tend to think of many things in optimistic terms. Unless we are worry warts, we seldom consider that tomorrow could be the end of the world, an invasion of aliens could descend upon us (no not the kind from Mexico) or that it could be announced that American Idol is going off the air. Certainly none of those events could happen during our lifetimes, could they?

We were wrong about Sept. 11, 2001. We could be just as wrong, despite our certainty of things, about about anything that transpires in our lives.

The broadcast news is always talking about "these uncertain times." What does that mean? Were there ever any "certain" times. In fact I find it kind of funny that when they talk about uncertain times in the context of today, we actually have more of an inkling about what might happen in the future than we do during the so-called "certain" times.

For instance lets look at the stock market. On a normal day, with no government reports coming out, Congress not doing something idiotic like they did two weeks ago and things seemingly moving along smoothly we can generally count on things being kind of stable. Right? But if Bill Gates gets a hang nail, or Warren Buffet coughs, the markets can suddenly change as fast as lightning. No one could predict that; no one could know. No one could be certain about what was going to happen.

Yet right now, with the stock market being so volatile, we all know something big will happen each day. Either it will go high or it will go low. For instance we knew with a certainty that the debt debate would affect the stock market; I could smell it clear from Washington D.C. and Wall Street. Yet everyone acted like "Ouuu...we don't know what will happen." There was actually more certainty about that Monday opening of the stock market than we would ever have on a normal Monday when Congress was out of session.

I always ask myself when I hear someone use the term "uncertain times", when were these certain times they always refer too? They never put a date on when they were? Were these times in 1964, 1973, 1987 or 1996? I lived through all those years, and certainty was not one of the hallmarks of any of them. Even at 12 years old (1964), I remember wondering what would become of the world almost each and every day. I married my ex-wife in 1973 (certainly something that turned out not to be certain). In 1987 I left a 15 year career with a school district and took my first job as an editor, certain that I would be a big time magazine editor in California eventually. As for 1996, I was running my own business and everything was uncertain all the time.

Some people say they have great certainty in their life. I have had friends tell me that the latest woman they are dating is "certainly the one." One friend said that the company he worked for was rock solid and "will always be a good investment." And of course I have one friend that is "certain of what happens after death."

I'm glad some of my friends can be so certain about women they date (the guy that told me that has gone through three wives and uncountable girl friends), that investments in some things are a sure thing (my friend worked for General Motors and the companies blue chip stocks he owned were his insurance for retirement) and that they are going to heaven. (The person who told me that has a more black marks in God's book than I do and I know I am not going to heaven. That is one thing that is for certain!)

Personally I think that certainty is over rated. Sure it's a nice concept on the eyes, but it is a very high maintenance state of being. Now that I have thought about it, uncertainty has such a good ring to it, no wonder broadcasters use it so much.

So go ahead, be certain or uncertain. But I'd put my money on uncertainty.

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August 16, 2011
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