By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — What are you scared about today? The economic crisis? Rising unemployment? Plagues and famines? Earth changes and global warming?
How about terrorists? And if so, where? At home or abroad? In Europe? Asia? Iran? Iraq? Pakistan? In the air? On the ground? On the high seas?
And when you were making your plans for the new millennium, did you really think the world would be concerned with pirates ... the real kind, not those portrayed by Johnny Depp on the silver screen?
Actually, it hardly surprised me at all. I’m a Baby Boomer and it seems like someone has been trying to scare me all of my life.
It’s kind of strange, when you think of it, since we were born to parents who tried so hard to make the world a safer, happier place for us, who survived the Great Depression and World War II, who took to heart President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s proclamation that “the only thing we have to is fear itself.”
When I hear that, I always think of a dinner in Santa Fe during the 1980s with British-born members of the “Greatest Generation,” who had survived some very scary things, including numerous German air raids bombing London, dangerous missions behind enemy lines, and searches for surviving friends and family in ravaged war zones and concentration camps.
“Somehow, I don’t ever remember the climate of fear being as great as it is now, in times of peace,” one of my dinner companions said. “There is this aura of free-floating angst, fear and anxiety that hangs over everything.”
And those were the golden days, comparatively speaking.
I think back to my childhood and the Cold War. The atom bomb drills when we were periodically asked to crouch under our elementary school desks and put our little hands over our heads, as if that could protect us from the force which ravished Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Of course, those were also the days when we routinely and repeatedly stuck our tootsies into the Buster Brown x-ray machine at the shoe store to make sure each pair or shoes we were considering did not cramp our little toes.
There was a lot of confusion about what we should and shouldn’t fear and how to deal with it all.
Don’t be a litterbug. Save the environment. And that jingle I still find myself singing some days: “Buy soft drinks in throw-away cans. Start today!”
The war to end all wars. The Korean War. The Vietnam War. The Gulf War. The War on Terror. The Iraqi War. And those are just a few of the more-or-less official ones. Let’s not get into the border wars, the war on drugs, the immigration wars, religious conflicts and ethnic “cleansings” and the numerous international struggles and skirmishes of recent decades.
The Hong Kong Flu. The Bird Flu. Swine Flu. AIDS. Rabies. The Plague, again. Microbes from outer space, and while we’re out there: Comets. Killer Meteorites. UFOs and ETs with bad attitudes.
Had enough? Me, too.
This summer, why don’t we all take a little break from free-floating, mindless, soul-less fear? Consider the old maxim: Why worry when you can pray? Assess the situation, get whatever information we can and take constructive action when possible. Helping others always makes you feel a little better. If you can’t give money, volunteer. Or clean out your closets and donate what you don’t need to charity.
As Tenny Hale advised: When you feel like giving out, give outward. Take a deep breath and relax and rejoice that we are living in one of the most beautiful corners of the planet, populated with lots of sweet souls who care for one another and respect each other’s differences.
And maybe, ponder the full “fear” quote from FDR’s 1933 Inaugural address (find the whole speech at http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5057/) delivered during our first Great Depression: “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory.”
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org