The Dow was up again last week, closing just below its all-time high. Meanwhile, Russian troops seized the Crimea; violent protests gripped Venezuela; Uganda passed a law sentencing homosexuals to life imprisonment; sectarian killings remain epidemic in Iraq and Burma; 10,000 have died in the Central African Republic; car bombings killed 90 in Nigeria; violence ripped through Thailand. Here at home, a huge storm brought heavy flooding and mudslides to the West, but no relief from crippling drought; a growing wealth gap continues to erode our belief in opportunity and community; an unrepentant Arizona legislature turns to spot checks of abortion clinics. Each day seems to bring a new crisis from an unexpected quarter. It’s exhausting to feel so helpless in a world beyond our control.
So why would the market gain 49 points on Friday? Is this just more evidence of Wall Street's obliviousness to suffering in the world? Undoubtedly. But I like to think there's another message. The cataclysmic tone of today’s news merely amplifies what people have understood for millennia: we aren’t in control of our destiny. One response is to lock our doors and turn out the lights. In individuals that’s called depression; in nations it's called isolationism. Another is to accept the limits of our power and engage with the world as we find it. Beneath the chilling headlines, people get on with their lives, affirming their resilience and investing in a future they can’t foretell. That's called living. In the face of tragedy, life remains a wonder.