Anxiety is the fear of the future, worried about in the present.

Remember hearing about the radio broadcast of War of the Worlds, how some people killed family members for fear they would be overtaken by aliens?

Remember the ending of Dr. Strangelove where the submarine crew voted to try to return home to be with loved ones, and others took the little red pills before the inevitable brought on by the worldwide nuclear holocaust?

I can’t help but wonder if we are in the midst of a similar holocaust.

Was our economy crashed on purpose, never to recover its bubble again? Has this virus, somehow let loose from China, whether started with a bat as first reported or by escaping from a biological warfare lab, predicted the end of our world as we know it? Because surely, whether we survive or not, we will never nor should we ever be the same again.

Our government leaders are beginning to contradict their earlier advice and now encourage us to wear masks in public to help prevent the innocent spread of Covid 19.

“Yes, maybe it is a good idea,” they suggest, after first insisting such a precaution wasn’t necessary. Who should we trust? Who should we believe?

Voluntary shelter-in-place suggestions may not be working either. Witness the Georgia legislator who came south in a three-car motorcade to his home on St George Island, despite having tested positive for Covid 19. What can be in such minds?

Witness the continuing crowds in public places, whether on a beach or in a church. Have those folks forgotten Star Trek’s famous Mr. Spock’s quote, ‘‘The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

While the New England Patriots’ plane brought in 1.2 million imported masks from China to the US this week, last Monday alone, U.S. manufacturers exported more than 280 million N95 masks to other countries. A once arch-enemy, Russia sent a planeload of masks and personal protective equipment in a reported purchase agreement. Hoarding is everywhere, from toilet paper to milk to the Brooklyn man who had 320,000 desperately-needed masks. A stockpile of ventilators is found to be no longer acceptable because the vital maintenance contract was allowed to expire a year ago. The President’s son complains publicly that states are wrongly trying to access federal stockpiles because, he says, “they are Our stockpiles.”

Unemployment phone and technology has crashed under the incredible demands; relief subsidy checks may not be received in hand until September. The initial coronavirus test from the Centers for Disease Control failed. Hospital ships with 1,000 beds, each sent to help in New York and Los Angeles, only have 20 beds filled in one and 45 beds filled in the other. And such horrendous examples of ineffective, contradictory and chaotic mismanagement go on and on. What is wrong with our systems which were believed to be the best?

It seems clearer each day, with each new crisis, our uncoordinated and ineffective leadership and management at many levels of the country are failing the citizens they are sworn to protect. Of course, the pandemic which has reached across the ocean to infiltrate our shores, sweeping through our states, has changed the pictures of health, safety, security and even the balloon of prosperity for us all.

Nearly every state has lost population to the virus. Young children, healthy middle agers and elderly are stricken with fatal results. Patients are being ranked for their potential success in treatment. Scott Burns, author of the 2011 movie “Contagion” cannot believe his fictional pandemic prediction has become worse than he imagined. Even in our isolated rural county, a case of virus has emerged, brought here by someone from out-of-state. Is nowhere (but Siberia) safe any longer?

Many of us are frightened, of each other, of leaving our homes, of interactions with neighbors and even family. Hugs and handshakes are ill-advised; usual friendly smiles hidden behind masks. We read or watch or listen to the news, as if mesmerized by the latest statistics, graphs and warnings. Our lives have taken on an almost dream-like quality of an ongoing nightmare. This can’t be happening to us! This is America and we are free, and brave.

Well, we are brave. We must ride through this latest disaster happening to our economy, health and personal freedoms. We must emerge on the other side, whether in two weeks, four, six or 100. We must protect ourselves and our loved ones as best we can, and each find our “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.” Because even while struggling through today, we must continue to create a better new normal for tomorrow.

And, there will be a new tomorrow. However, we will not be the same as we were yesterday. And we shouldn’t be. In every crisis, there are lessons to be learned. May we all study and discover and learn well the ones we need most for our better future.

Mel Kelly