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June 26, 2012

Our Fragile Times

Dec. 28, 1990

While horses have always been the main focus of the Chronicle's editorial pages, sometimes world events are too big to ignore.

How different the world looks today than a year ago. Do you remember that almost giddy time? We were talking about the “peace dividend” as the Cold War ended following the destruction of the Berlin Wall and the democratization of Eastern Europe. Peace seemed to have really arrived at last.

Now those bright promises have been largely overshadowed by the apparently imminent war in the Middle East, by the economic downturn that has partly resulted from the threat of war and continued environmental issues. Businesses are failing, companies are laying off workers, and energy prices are only going up.

We haven’t had to deal with war for over 15 years now. This one will be played with new rules in a new environment—against an unpredictable lunatic with a powerful war machine in front of TV cameras and other instant electronic media. For the first time, we will know exactly what’s happening almost as it’s happening. It will be there whether we want it or not on the evening news, in the newspapers and in the weekly news magazines. How different the Civil War or World War II might have been had they been played out on TV.

Few of us are likely to be untouched by the war if the conflict escalates as predicted. We will have relatives, friends or relatives of friends fighting in the desert. I know three career military officers, one of which is a cousin already stationed there or about to return.

A war will be hard to stomach, which won’t help the public’s resolve to punish Iraq. But standing up to Iraq has to be done to protect our interests and to keep Hussein from further advances. And, unfortunately, we needed an economic downturn. Yes, that too will be hard to take. But real estate prices, interest rates and many other expenses had reached a point of unreality that nothing short of recession would halt. This happened 10 years ago and more dramatically 60 years ago, and the economy emerged stronger.

As horsemen we often feel insulated from the outside world. We’re too busy to watch the news or read the papers, so events like elections, last year’s sweeping events in Europe, environmental disasters, and economic fluctuations often don’t seem to affect us. But they do affect us as horsemen, particularly the environment. Loss of open land, pollution and depletion of natural resources are all things that we should be aware of and be concerned about. They will affect where and how we keep our horses in the future.

As 1990 ends, we are reminded how fragile peace, the environment and our lives are. And we are reminded how lucky those of us who are writing and reading this magazine are compared to millions of others here and around the world.

I hate New Year’s resolutions, but I’d like to suggest that we all pledge to do what we can, however small, in the coming year to help preserve our world, especially the environment, and make the future brighter.

This article was first published on Dec. 28, 1990, in The Chronicle of the Horse. It's part of a series celebrating 75 years of Chronicle history.

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