BE AFRAID; BE VERY AFRAID


“Tanks at the Ukrainian Border.  World War III?” was posted, and I just shook my head.  Today, it was “Hamas style tunnels going under the Mexican-US border.”  There is so much fear out there, I wonder why only 7% of Americans have served in the military.  It sounds like we all ought to be conscripted, for terrorists appear to be everywhere.

We have become a nation of fear, afraid of the boogeyman, who will bring nuclear weapons across the southern border, infect the country with Ebola, blow up our nuclear plants, abduct thousands of children a year, drive millions of Americans out of work, raise a black flag over the White House, take over our land, allow Russia to run unchecked, ISIS to control the whole Middle East, Iran to have nuclear weapons, which they will use on Israel, and Texas targeted by North Korea (which it actually was, although the missile blew up shortly after launch and didn’t have the range).  Every time Mr. Obama speaks, people buy guns to add to the 310 million in the country, yet if any gun has been taken away illegally by the Feds, I have yet to see credible evidence.  How many guns do we need in this country?  A half billion?  A billion?  Ten billion?  A trillion?  Is there a top number?

The President has created fewer national monuments than his predecessors, yet the Organ Mountain Monument was a “federal land grab.”  I AM the federal government.  ALL OF US are.  I LIKED the monument.  I DON’T LIKE people’s grazing cattle on federal land for free, then calling for people to fighting against “them.”  I AM THEM.  I don’t eat meat, and I pay land use fees.

Make no doubt: inciting fear wins elections.  George W. Bush won in 2004 by campaigning on fear, when most Americans still believed 9/11 was caused by Saddam Hussein. Perhaps most of Americans still do believe it.  Iraq kept Bush in power, until the war became costly, “dead enders” were very much alive, and more Americans came home permanently maimed or in body bags.  Congress changed; the response to Hurricane Katrina, which was scary, was a contributing cause.  Who but the federal government would have rebuilt New Orleans, or Joplin?  We saw what happened without a decent FEMA in 2005 and with a decent FEMA in 2012.

I have fears, but nothing on the above list.  Almost anything is possible, but I can think of a many things that would easily wreak havoc in this country that nobody has mentioned; I won’t mention them here, except for rolling back safety nets.  Get rid of Medicare, Social Security, food and water inspections, and we will be the newest member of the Third World.  I find that scary.  We know enough about Ebola and other infectious diseases that we bring our living soldiers in the infection war home alive to be treated.  I can understand one’s wanting to have the body of a loved one returned home; to decry bringing a living infected body home for treatment is a contradiction.  The probability of a child’s dying from a motor vehicle accident is over 10 times that of their being abducted by a stranger, yet I see no ads for strong enforcement of child safety restraints in cars.  Scary news sells.  In 1979, during the Iran crisis, the media showed screaming protesters outside the embassy.  A block away, all was quiet.  

Muslims in America are not about to take over the country, except maybe in mathematics, where Dr. Mirzakhani, a 37 year-old Iranian citizen, full professor at Stanford (at 31), won the prestigious Fields Medal in mathematics.  Our high schools are full of students who can’t do basic division, don’t know their multiplication tables or how to write an English sentence, let alone cursively,  have no idea where Canada is, let alone Iran.  I fear ignorance.  We don’t teach critical thinking, so people are easily swayed by rumors deliberately fomented by good-looking people, nice sounding “news” outlets.  Ten children families scare me. We are straining our resources and our space.  I hear no, and I mean no, comments about that.

Russia will do what it wishes, and there is not much we can do about it.  The world has changed; American troops are not the answer to problems that can be created by a few thousand people using complex armaments supplied them by developed nations (like us).  As I write this, I am flying in an aircraft over a foreign country, but I’m not worried about being blown out of the sky.  The very notion of war continues to change. 

ISIS is controlling land, but radical Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, scare me more, especially Christianity’s influence here.  If people want to pray, fine. It is scary—and insulting— when a Congressman sends a Bible, a book with hundreds of contradictions and false interpretations, to other Congressmen. The constant use of “God” and “prayer” in speeches scares me, rather than offering ideas open to modification.  God sells here; ideas that take time to articulate are ignored. “Just give me the bottom line” is one of the scariest phrases I hear.  Major problems, like immigration, public education and the national debt, can’t be summarized in 30 seconds.

I do not know whether Iran will develop nuclear weapons.  Pakistan has them, and yes, that is scary.  So is the environmental catastrophe about to engulf China, in the name of our “requiring” a completely unsustainable 10% annual growth.  That statement is on a par with “the stock market always goes up,” based on 60 years of data. What scares me is that we in the US will do nothing about climate change, despite 650,000 years of data, until nature gives us—and forgive the term:  a “come to Jesus” moment.  

I am not scared of illegal immigration.  I am scared of drug runners, who will bypass any fence we can build, but I worry less about being shot by them than being in the wrong place at the wrong time in my city.  I am more scared that we are trying to take in much of the world.  I am not scared that Spanish will become a second language; I am more scared that Americans are not working to become fluent in another language—any language.  I am not worried that the dollar will no longer be the reserve currency in the world, but German’s becoming the lingua franca in central Europe ought to give us pause, along with the oft-cloudy nation’s out-producing us in solar power.  The world likes a lot about America, when they stop laughing at us long enough to look.

It’s time to cool it on “disaster is right around the corner,” or “We’re Number One.”  We aren’t.  If one believes all is Obama’s fault, then run for office.  If the opponents win, I give them 90 days to fix everything, since they believe the world is simple. More helpful would be quietly working to improve justice in the world, addressing population control, and dealing with climate change.  There are a few others I would throw in, but the current attention span is limited until the next tweet or upcoming disaster posted on Facebook.  Messenger is probably beeping right now, so I  better go.

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