Our country has survived, and even grown from, the Civil War, two World Wars, the Great Depression, and the Cold War with its numerous hot wars. The sixties and seventies were mighty turbulent. Lesson to be learned? We might even grow past our current problems.
This does not mean we should not be aware of, concerned about, and willing to address our problems. I don’t think we will ever solve all of them, but we can make some improvements. But, here’s my point: A little perspective, please.
Some random and personal observations, certainly not meant to apply in every case to everyone:
We fear too many of the wrong things. For example, the number of people who die in plane crashes each year is statistically insignificant (yes, I know, they are still people) considering there are over 30 million flights per year around the world. The numbers who die in auto crashes is statistically significant. Which do we worry about?
Per surveys done the top five things parents worry about for their children are: Kidnappings, School shootings, Terrorists, Dangerous strangers, and Drugs. Certainly things to worry about. The top five things that actually kill children? Car accidents, Homicide (2/3 of the time by a parent), Abuse (2/3 of the time by a parent), Suicide, and Drowning. Which ones get the headlines?
Presidential candidates (and others) must bring up real problems to be addressed. It seems to me, however, that they appeal to the basest fears in us more often than not. They want to get elected and they want us to believe they can save us from all the boogie men. Lately there seems to less and less of a vision for the future (“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”), or reassuring leadership (“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”), or even commanding leadership (“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”). What we have is fear-mongering, finger pointing, and hand wringing.
And . . . the media loves it! The old adage of “if it bleeds, it leads” is still true. But now what bleeds (or has the potential to bleed, literally or figuratively) is live on 43 channels, hashed and re-hashed for days, evaluated, analyzed, and debated ad nauseam, all the while with us viewers cowering in our dens. Note how media reporters even start interviewing other media reporters. Can you say “time filler?” And that is not even to mention social media.
All that comes down to the personal. Just the other day I was told that I should pack a gun because of all the traveling I do. “Things have changed so much.” Well, I think there are perfectly good reasons and situations for some people to pack. I am not interested in debating that right or preference. (By the way, years ago I was a licensed Oklahoma law enforcement officer and owned and carried a gun. I don't do either now). Is it dangerous out there? Yes, but I take note of two things:
-- One, according to FBI statistics violent crime rates are the lowest since 1967 (They peaked in the seventies and eighties. We have never gotten over it). You can research that yourself. Why do we think otherwise? Think about it.
-- Two, for the last 24 years I have been all over Fort Worth all times of the day and night (including the “bad areas;” that is, the areas of a different color) and have travelled all over Texas (Houston, El Paso, Laredo, the Rio Grande Valley, east, west, and all points in between. I’ve even been in Odessa, the “most dangerous city in Texas”). Not one single time have I felt threatened, been afraid, or been in an “awkward” situation. Maybe I’m naïve and stupid. Maybe my time will come. But statistically (!) and experientially I feel safe.
Finally, be careful, be cautious, be wise. Be realistic, address issues, be concerned. Pack heat if you feel you must. But don’t buy into the business of fear from politicians and from the media. Most of all, remember Psalm 4:8, “I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.”