Saturday, August 07, 2010
We have become a nation of scaredy-cats. Whatever happened to "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself?" Now, the only things we seem to fear are everything and everyone. Why is it so easy to scare the American public?
Nine years later, we are still speaking in hushed tones about 9/11 as if it happened yesterday. Yes, it was horrible. Yes, people in New York were traumatized. So were people in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. The media appear to be the ones keeping the trauma alive. They don't seem able to move on. 9/11 has become a mantra, somewhat like "Remember the Alamo". I can't believe the people most closely involved in that terrible time enjoy being reminded of it on an almost daily basis.
I guess we've always been afraid of something. Back in good old bad old days, it was the Red Menace (Russia) or the Yellow Peril (China) that had us furiously digging up our back yards and installing bomb shelters. At least, back then, we felt we could take some sort of action to assuage our fears. Nowadays, we just all run in circles, fleeing our shadows.
There is a song from "South Pacific" that says, "You've got to be taught to be afraid of people whose skin is a different shade." How true. We are afraid of swarthy people (Muslims), Brown people (Mexicans), Black people (Obama) but, we are mostly afraid of each other, Liberals, Conservatives, Libertarians. Even the people who live next door look suspicious to us and we, in turn look suspicious to them. After all, didn't we just uncover a ring of Soviet Spies, inept and ineffectual though they may have been, whose neighbors all thought they were good, honest folk?
Our fears wax and wane with each political season. But, the people we seem to fear the most this year are the Gays. We are afraid that if they are allowed to marry, they will do - what? Become equal? Have the same marriage benefits as non-gays? Why in the world didn't they just stay in their closets? Are we afraid that now that we have to confront the issue, we will come to understand that their lifestyle is genetic and not necessarily their choice? Oh, that scary science!
Finally, we are being taught to fear our government. We fear the onset of Communism, Socialism, Fascism, Totalitarianism, just any old "ism" we can think of. We don't seem to realize that our fears are unfounded and can be laid at the feet of today's politicians, willing to use any scare tactic they can think of, just to win an election. Then, after they succeed, and so often they do, they go on with their lives, never thinking of the emotional damage they have done. Everything goes along as usual in Washington.
But, outside of the beltway, people are more afraid than they were before the election. Scaredy-cats all.