That sinking feeling
Watching the nightly news, talking to friends and colleagues, overhearing conversations in coffee houses and churches, more and more people are thinking the center no longer holds, the wheels are wobbling, everything's getting crazy.
Ed Smith of downtown is a pensioner
Do you have a sense that things are in general decline? The world is not a safe place. There's always going to be turmoil. It's just that technology now makes everyone more aware of difficulties and problems.
How about you? Did things get better or worse in the past year? It didn't go so good for me. My wife passed away, my car was stolen in January, and I'm spending most of my time going back and forth to the doctor.
What would you change if you could? People would be more courteous and have more respect for each other.
Pick a decade you think things were generally better. The late '60s and '70s. There were more jobs.
Indian Mike of Los Angeles, California is a psychologist
Are we caught in a general downward spiral? Our political system needs repair. Issues like immigration need to be re-examined. As an American Indian, I think our immigration policy should have been drastically tightened 500 years ago.
Did things get better or worse for you in the past year? They got a little worse. As you get older, your health deteriorates and you have to depend on your children for help.
Identify something you'd change if you could. People judging others based on outer appearance. I try to make myself identifiable as a member of the Tohono O'odham tribe of Arizona. I wear my hair in braids, for one, which gets a lot of unasked-for comments, pro and con.
In what decade were things generally better? I'm a big fan of the '50s. It was a time of peace. Dwight D. Eisenhower did really well to unify Americans as a whole.
Meredith Allen of Old North End is a student (graduated May 16)
Are things in a state of general decline? Our environment certainly is. We're not going to be able to maintain our lifestyles in the way we have up to now.
What accounts for this? Rampant consumerism in combination with the greed of energy and agricultural interests.
Can you point to any positive developments recently? I'm seeing a lot more organic and vegetarian options in the supermarket, which suggests greater public consciousness about the link between personal health and environmental health.
Envision things 10 to 15 years from now. The haves will continue to prosper and the have nots will continue declining. It's not going to be good for the have nots.