They say that a problem shared is a problem halved. Maybe, that rings true for personal problems, but is it really true for so-called ‘world problems’? Take, for instance, two raging economic and financial issues: the US federal deficit and the political debate about the debt limit; the economic crisis in the European Union, and the debt crises facing Greece, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Do we feel more at ease for all that we have learned about the billions and trillions of US dollars of debt that is under discussion? Do we have more comfort from hearing about the services that may have to be cut or the employees who may have to be dismissed? Or, do we merely feel overwhelmed by problems whose scale seem too large to comprehend? Does knowing about the political maneuvering that involve stalemates, brinkmanship, and deals on or deals off, make us feel the problems are lessened? Does hearing about possible risks of default, spending cuts, possible tax increases, make us feel less or more concerned? Are we more or less at ease after hearing and seeing and reading for weeks about the topics?
I do not think I can honestly say that what has been shared about these financial problems diminishes them in any way. But, we debate the topics more to test our understanding and express our views than to really help with their resolution. That may make us feel good about our intellectual processes, but as we are not actors in resolving the issues, how much comfort do we take from our better understanding?