"Summing up what all good parents should teach their toddlers, one [early] Puritan was more concise: "Learn to die," he wrote.
Children on the American frontier, more so even than their English cousins, grew up amid a rich-hued panorama of death." -Adam Goodheart, The Atlantic
I am not interested in being afraid anymore. I am not interested in being told I should be afraid anymore, either. I am no longer interested in allowing for any of that.
The innocence that I had lost is coming back stronger than ever. I am reclaiming it from those who stole it when I was a child. I am defending it from those who seek to gain from a perpetual state of fear.
My lost youth is going to return. The youth lost when I learned about death and life in the world of terror. Terror by airplane, bomb, or gun, perpetrated by domestic terrorist, foreign terrorist, white supremacist, Islamist terrorist, or by the motiveless mass shooter who kills bystanders in a café, movie theater, doctor's office, government building, or elementary, middle, high school, or college classroom. I am getting that youth back. The youth lost to color-coded alerts and lockdown drills--my generation's version of "duck and cover."
My parents did "duck and cover." The immense threat of the ever-looming total nuclear annihilation was their cloud of fear. They may have even taken some comfort living in that M.A.D. world beneath a desk. While nuclear war spelled the total ending of everyone, I used to think the finality of that had to be a better thought than the threat of small-scale random attacks that slash at our psyche perpetrated by people hidden in plain sight. But I don't think like that now.
I am not arsed about fear anymore. Not interested in fearful living.
The thing about that panorama of death during my lifetime is that it wasn't. My life has been marked with fewer wars with fewer deaths than before. The panorama of death was more theoretical than it was actual. That was the television version of real life. Short bursts on TV that perpetuated fear.
I am not interested in being afraid of those things that politicians and those running for office say go bump in the geopolitical night. Same goes for news persons, pundits, or cable news show security "experts" peddling a theory on how dangerous the world is today.
Our cities, our streets, our neighborhoods are not battlefields, are not war zones, are not places where we should fear being. As much as terrorism wishes to rattle us, it cannot unless we let it. I let it do so for too long.
I can be horrified and saddened and in need of comfort from loved ones after attacks without succumbing to fear. The acts of terror that we detest become doubly effective when we encourage fear. And they become even less effective when we reject the perpetrator's worldview.
And I am not interested in what comes along with that fear, either. I am not interested in hatred. The hatred of "others" that goes hand in hand with many people's fear. The fear of "them" even when it is not "them" who are responsible. Hate and suspicion fueled by fear.
I will not let you work me up into the frenzy of believing that we must lock down the country and keep ourselves in a state of elevated, high, or severe hysteria until you "can figure out what is going on."
But "our country is at stake," you say? You represent the threat to the country that is built on laws of religious freedom.
I am not buying into this hate that many are selling in Costco-like quantities. I am not interested in their plan to pacify the nation's fears that they have helped whip up, either. I don't care about your plan to "empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized."
Suspicion is not a policy. Bigotry is not a strategy. Spreading hatred is not leadership.
I am refusing to play the role I played for most of my twenty-four years as a good American living in a world in which fear was an ordinary resting emotion.
Naïve, you call me? Naïveté is not the opposite of constant fear, constant suspicion of others. Naïveté would be believing a heightened state of fear and suspicion would keep me safe.
The absence of fear is a life governed by reason. America is not shroud in a "panorama of death" no matter how much you espouse the gospel of fear.
I am not arsed about fear anymore.