The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm of David: 27:1
July 12, 2007 — There’s no getting around it, we are living in scary times. The signs are all around us. We are exposed nightly to reports from Iraq and Afghanistan telling of roadside bombings and ever-increasing numbers of both American GIs and civilians being killed. Some want the killing to end, to bring our troops home, but the White House and a shrinking number of Republicans in Congress are saying that if we leave Iraq now, the terrorists will just step up their activities here on American soil.
Just last week our British allies were attacked in two separate incidents, one luckily failed altogether, the other caused minimal damage and injury. But, of course, it could have been much worse. Now, while evening news programs are showing us how easy it would be for terrorists to make “dirty” bombs in this country, we’re being told that the administration’s head of Homeland Security has a “gut feeling” that we’re about to be hit again this summer by al Qaeda.
On another front, scientists are telling us that our way of life is poisoning the earth’s atmosphere, which in turn, is causing global temperatures to rise, which in turn is causing glaciers, sea ice and continental ice sheets to melt, which in turn will soon flood the earth’s heavily populated coastal areas. Tropical storms will be more severe we’re being told, and the great rivers of the world that sustain agriculture supporting billions of people with food will cease to flow. The White House, of course, denies this.
On the other hand, we’re being told that our economy is strong and growing at an impressive rate with low unemployment owing to the President’s tax cuts in 2002. Americans shouldn’t worry. Why, just the other night, ABC News reported (without comment) that the White House is predicting the federal budget deficit to narrow to just $205 billion in the current fiscal year, the smallest shortfall since 2002. The claim is that this is due to an unexpected increase in tax revenues. The Democratically-controlled Congress, however, says that this improvement in tax revenues, at best, is only temporary and that only by raising taxes on the wealthiest of Americans can the gap be closed by 2012 with the government meeting it’s constitutional obligations to the people.
Meanwhile, Americans I know are pretty much going about their daily lives, discounting most of the claims and counter claims of doom, failure and disaster. While everybody knows somebody who’s been laid off recently and can’t find work at a commensurate level of compensation, we keep plugging along as if nothing was wrong. We drive by the increasing number of homes in our neighborhoods with for-sale signs on them and think, “Boy, I’m glad I don’t have to move just now.” We’ve become anesthetized to the violence we see and skeptical of the promises and assur- ances from our elected leaders. In short, we’ve lost confidence but are in denial about it.
“Oh well,” we think, “what difference can I make?”
Most of the people I talk to say that they don’t trust politicians in general anymore, regardless of which political party they represent. But, should we be afraid?
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, during the height of the Great Depression, told Americans, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” As Christians, true Christians, we have nothing to fear but God Himself. But personally, whether we are Christian or not, I think that a little fear can be a healthy thing — that is, if it isn’t unreasonable fear.
“Okay,” you say. “But what fear is unreasonable?”
Fear that is based on misinformation and deception is unreason- able fear. Fear that is generated by media pundits based on unsubstantiated claims is unreasonable fear. Fear of the unknown and fear that is fed by emotion alone is unreasonable fear. So, maybe it’s time for us to start digging for some facts on our own. Maybe it’s time for us to start listening to people who have no agenda to advance, people who are neither in government nor in business. And just who might these people be? Certainly not the FDA, the NRC, FCC, the FAA, or the CIA. They all work for the same guy now, not us.
How about journalists? Maybe, but which journalists? There are all kinds now you know, some lean to the left, some lean to the right. And some are now being paid to tell stories the way that others want them told. How about the associations – the AARP, the NAACP, the Sierra Club, the NRA? Nah… they all support special interest groups.
Who then? Oh, I know! How about the retired military generals who spoke out against going to war in Iraq? How about the fired judges? We haven’t heard from them yet. How about the past Surgeons General of this and previous administrations and the agency analysts who tried to convince President Bush that Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11? How about the scientists and other academics whose salaries are not paid by the administration, by political action groups, or by industry?
If the data collected and stored by the Bureau of Labor Statistics are not yet completely skewed by the current administration to substantiate government claims, there are plenty of graduate economists out there who can give us unbiased assessments of where we really are economically and where we are likely headed.
No, Americans should not be living in fear. Living in fear consumes us in fear, which paralyzes us into inaction. But, neither should we not be afraid. All the signs suggest that we should be… reasonably afraid. Not of “whom,” but of “what.”
Bad as it was, 9-11 did not defeat us, nor will the next attack. America will survive attacks from without. What we should fear are attacks from within. We should be afraid of too much wealth and too much power concentrated in the hands of too few. We should be afraid of our own complacencies, our own ignorances, our own dogmas (the President refers to these as principles). We should be afraid of falling intellectual prey to other’s convictions and opinions, and afraid too of giving up too much of that which made us who we were. These are not unreasonable fears.
So, what difference can you make? Plenty. Get your facts straight from unbiased sources (Yeah there really are some sources that at least endeavor to be unbiased, for example: FactCheck.org; FactCheckEd.org; Better Business Bureaus; Ad Busters; Center for Media and Democracy; Union of Concerned Scientists; The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. For a list of many, many more, Click Here ). Become informed so that you can make reasoned judgments. Participate in the democratic process the Founders gave to us, and don’t cast your vote in the next election based on anyone else’s opinion but your own.
When there is controversy, be open to hearing arguments from all sides because all sides have something to say. Do your civic duty when you’re called upon to serve, and your job to the best of your ability. And, according to your faith persuasion and traditions — pray. This may not reduce the dangers that we face, but it will reduce the fears that we feel.
Yes, you can make a difference. You can help restore democracy to America, but not unless you vote.
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