OUTSIDE THE BOX
One of the earliest disaster movies, Fire! was made in 1901. This silent film showed a burning house and told the story of the firemen who put out the flames and rescued the residents. The first movie about the sinking of the Titanic was filmed in 1913, one year after the sinking.
The 1970s were the golden age of disaster movies with the release of Airport, the Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno, Earthquake, and a number of others.
Perhaps because I am of the generation that grew up with constant predictions of disaster, I don’t care about them anymore.
My generation grew up with the actual threat of global nuclear war. We were also told that overpopulation would eventually use up the food supply but that the pesticide DDT would probably kill us all first. It was absolutely critical to Save the Whales and the rainforests. Oil, water and clean air would all be gone by the year 2000.
In 1970 I first visited the science research facility at the Haleakalā volcano in Hawaii. On the wall, one scientist had a graph of the 10-year daily readings of carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the air at this 10,000-foot elevation. He explained that CO2 was a greenhouse gas that, if the increase continued, would soon doom the planet to extinction through increased warming.
By now that graph probably reaches to the third floor.
There is something about our human nature that attracts us to “disasters.” While few of us will ever experience an airplane crash, being caught in a burning building, or watch an asteroid destroy the planet, we want to know what it feels like.
Further, with the world at our computer/Internet fingertips, perhaps there is also a sense of power that previous generations never thought of, much less experienced. Maybe there is a feeling of being able to control disasters even though they are few and far between.
If I were to buy a ream of bond paper and write down all the things that I need to think about, important things that might affect my life, priorities that I want to do something about, Senator Defensor-Santiago’s appointment to the International Criminal Court might appear on page 498, right after being kidnapped by aliens and right before experiencing the pain of childbirth.
Yet, there are some people who have included this in their daily agenda and are pushing computer buttons to do something about it. I find it a little amazing that there are not more serious situations that need addressing.
I only use this as an example and mean no disrespect to anyone’s concerns. But might this not be creating a disaster just to try to fix it?
When the stock market started going down in early May, people were speaking of a disaster, massacre and bloodbath. No. Sorry. The civil war in Syria is a disaster, massacre and bloodbath. A falling stock market is not.
Not wanting to “go all religious,” but I believe there is truth to the thought that the more people embrace secular thinking, the more fearful they become even about the market. The bible quotes the words of Jesus as, “My peace I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid.” Those are powerful words of calming influence, if you believe them.
But then again the apostles never knew how to deal with the PSE index losing 8 percent in two weeks, right? Maybe not.
As with falling airplanes, flaming buildings, and other disaster preparedness, stock investors may do well to listen to some further biblical advice. The book of Proverbs says, “Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run” and “Get all the advice you can, and you will succeed; without it you will fail.”
My No.1 stock-market advice is “Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.” Worry is not part of your trading plan.
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