Commentator Elayne Clift

(WOMENSENEWS)–I’ve always been a worrier. I inherited the worry gene from my mother’s side of the family, which also passed on the guilt gene. It’s kind of a Jewish thing (although my Irish Catholic friends swear that it’s an Irish Catholic thing.) I have known countless people who never worried about anything at all until they met me. Now they can’t stop worrying, which I reassure them is a good thing, because God knows, there is so much to worry about. I mean, just think about it: cancer, nuclear war, anthrax, Ebola and other hemorrhagic fevers–and that’s just for starters.

I used to derive a perverse sense of security from worrying. My spurious logic went something like this: If I can conjure it up, it won’t really happen because my thinking will preempt any and all lurking disaster. It was meant to work sort of like holding a cross in the face of the devil until he shrank into nonbeing.

Then along came a new bushel of bad boys (and girls) in Washington, D.C., and my preemptive theory went out the window. For one thing, who could possibly have imagined all the things there would be to worry about once W took over? And for another, these birds never look up from the sand in which their heads are buried.

As if there were not already enough trouble brewing in the natural world, along comes an administration that still prefers to think that Roe v. Wade is simply two ways to cross the river, that animals are for wearing and that fine art means having a room full of wigged patriarchal portraits staring at the rest of us.

An Entirely New List of Things to Worry About

Here are just a few of the things I’ve been worrying about since George took the oath and promised us bipartisan leadership:

  • How many (mostly) women will suffer repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome before we remember that sound ergonomics makes for cost-saving health economics?
  • Similarly, how many senior citizens will have to get sick before we realize that prescription drugs need to be affordable?
  • How much iodine does it take in the water to kill salmonella in the meat?
  • How long will it take us to stop being ridiculed all over the world for withdrawing from the long-negotiated and much-needed Kyoto Agreement to limit greenhouse gases?

Worries About New Star Wars, Drilling in Alaska

  • And why are we building a humongous Star Wars military if we are going to isolate ourselves from the global community?
  • What will happen to the Chinese-American scholars held hostage in China now that the spy plane flight crew came home?
  • How much oil must you drill in Alaska before the landscape changes and the wildlife disappears?
  • How will poor women and women in developing countries avoid abortion if they don’t have access to family planning?
  • And how will agencies that have received U.S. foreign assistance carry on without that assistance now that Mr. Bush has cut them off from all funding because he misunderstands, apparently, that our funds were always restricted to non-abortion-related services?
  • How will single moms with, say, two kids realize any benefit from the proposed Child Tax Credit if they earn less than $23,500 a year?
  • Why was the White House Office for Women’s Initiatives and Outreach killed without anyone knowing about it, and why won’t the president take any questions on the matter?
  • Why was FDA Commissioner Jane Henney abruptly dismissed? Could it be that she approved mifepristone, or RU 486, as it’s commonly called, which is not only an effective abortifacient, but also a highly effective drug therapy for many types of cancer?

I guess my biggest worry is this: Who are the real gatekeepers in such matters, and who is watching over them?

Why did less than 40 percent of the electorate bother to vote in such critical times?

If this much destruction has been wrought in just the first quarter of the first year, what lies ahead that none of us may have dreamed of or thought to worry about?

I, for one, am feeling pretty guilty about my lack of foresight and absolutely terrified of what might be coming at us during the next three and three-quarter years. I think other people should start worrying too, regardless of their religious affiliation. Across the board, it seems the faith-based thing to do.

Elayne Clift is a writer in Saxtons River, Vt.