“Is anything alright, Sir?”

This is the punch line to a rather sad joke. A waiter is waiting on a group of sour customers. Everything is a problem, nothing is good enough. At the conclusion of the meal the waiter, instead of asking if everything is alright, asks if anything is alright. We live in angry times or at least in times where it is acceptable to show just how angry you are. Political discourse is based on the principle of who can express the most hostility towards the other side. Some political commentators and politicians would have you believe that there has never been a worse time in America. But, really, are things worse today than they were in the 1950’s? I remember Air Raid drills in elementary school where we went into the hallway and practiced holding our heads between our legs to protect us (I don’t know how) from a nuclear attack. Or the 1960’s and the Vietnam War and Watergate. Or the 1970’s and the gas lines and hyperinflation. Or the fierce recessions of the 1980’s and 9/11 in 2001. Certainly these are stressful times, but why all the fury. Perhaps what sells it so well is that we feel better about our own disquiet if we think someone else is more agitated than we are. Stamp collectors are fortunate that we have a hobby that offers an oasis from the world. Spending a few hours surfing the net for new items for your collection or putting a new stamp away or researching a new cover is a balm in our noisy world. I’ve often wanted to encourage Rush Limbaugh to become a stamp collector. But, if the hobby worked, and his rage level lessened, he wouldn’t be as popular as he is today.

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