Thursday, January 13, 2011

I Was Overwhelmed by Fear

The massacre in Tucson really affected me. I have had to reevaluate my response to the political right wing. I find that the words of pundits such a Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin frustrate and anger me. However, frustration and anger are not the emotions that drive me. That is fear.

I was overwhelmed by fear. The rational basis of my apprehension is history. I’ll not go into that other than saying the action of the contemporary U.S. right wing parallel the end of the Roman Republic as well as the rise of 20th Century dictatorships. I may expand on this in a future blog post. This fear is intellectual and rationale.

A second form of fear I experienced that is evinced by the words of the right wing pundits is purely emotional. Actually, this fear is closely related to grief and even more closely related to survival.

The extremists of the right wing have been threatening to do away with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid for decades. I survive because of Social Security and Medicare. Without them I would have no shelter, food, or health care. If the Republicans and Tea Party do take Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid away from the American people, many of us will die.

I said that this dear is purely emotional. I do not rationally believe that Congress will end these program, although there is the possibility that Congress can gut them. Whatever! When I have heard the vitriol of hate, prejudice, and oppression coming from the mouths of Glenn, Rush, and Sarah in regard to anything I believe is important, I want (and have) returned volley for volley (to use a Palin-type metaphor).

After reflecting upon the words that President Obama spoke in Tucson on Wednesday, I again remember that I cannot be driven by fear.
The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives - to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let's remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud. It should be because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other's ideas without questioning each other's love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations.
I believe we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved lives here - they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us. I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.
That's what I believe, in part because that's what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed. Imagine: here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation's future. She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting, something hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.
I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us - we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children's expectations.
Christina was given to us on September 11th, 2001, one of 50 babies born that day to be pictured in a book called "Faces of Hope." On either side of her photo in that book were simple wishes for a child's life. "I hope you help those in need," read one. "I hope you know all of the words to the National Anthem and sing it with your hand over your heart. I hope you jump in rain puddles."
If there are rain puddles in heaven, Christina is jumping in them today. And here on Earth, we place our hands over our hearts, and commit ourselves as Americans to forging a country that is forever worthy of her gentle, happy spirit.
May God bless and keep those we've lost in restful and eternal peace. May He love and watch over the survivors. And may He bless the United States of America." (Complete text HERE)
I regret that I have responded to the right wing, volley for volley. That action is not the Way of peacemaking. Also, being driven by fear is the way wars begin. I regret that I have allowed myself to be snared in that web.

There is, for me, only one way of not being driven by fear! It is simple: I must remember than I am not alone.



  1. the nut cases really scare me weather they be the right wing or the left wing,they scare me.

  2. I don't share your faith in Obama.

    But I do have faith that people will take care of each other, even when governments fail us.

  3. There is no need for regret. Fear is currency for some, and they work hard to earn it.

    You are not alone. The President reminded us to live up to the better expectations of our humanity. It's a timely reminder and one of which I shall take heed.

  4. Well said, Nick. Although we share different views re: politics, we both have one thing in common: fear. With that being said, that's exactly why I am more towards the right - the safety of our homeland security - but in the same breath, our own homeland, our very own country is at war with another, which is why I wish we were all a team and not so separated. I sympathize with your fears. We're human..

  5. I can understand your fear, Nick, be it emotional or rational. However, I do believe fear can work to jolt us out of our complacency and cause us to act/vote against the extremists and that can't be a bad thing.

    But you're aren't alone and by working together we can all make a difference and prevent the extremists from taking over. It doesn't matter what country we live in, we have these extremists to a greater or lesser degree and it's up to all of us to see that they do not spread their evil.

    Stay safe and keep well.

  6. Very well though tout post Nick. I may not agree politically etc, but I definately agree with the premis not to be motivated souly by fear.

    I came from a catholic background, so I could feel the prayer/hymn be not affraid before you had even posted it ;) some things do not disolve in time.

  7. Yes, well said, Nick. A timely and wonderful post. I do think this new manifestation of the right wing is so dangerous.