December 17, 2015

Are We Really So Afraid?

I watched the Republican Debate Tuesday night. I was interested in what the candidates would say about terrorism and the state of our national security. Since this is not a political blog I have no intention of dealing with which candidate did the best or any of the policy proposals. 

But, after the 160 minutes of back and forth, I turned off the TV with a few questions. If I am to believe what was being said, the citizens of this country are in a near panic over terrorist attacks and threats to our way of life. We are as fearful as we have ever been as a nation. The barbarians are pounding away at our doors. In fact, many have already slipped inside with plans for our imminent death and destruction.

We are prepared to give up some of our freedoms and privacy, even partial Internet access, to protect us from the wall of doom headed directly for us. We can even think out loud about killing the families of terrorists if that helps protect us.

Politics is about grabbing headlines, playing to people's aspirations, and solidifying support with certain constituents. Exaggeration and hyperbole, both good and bad, are standard fare. Most of us have been around the block enough times to know that what someone promises to do rarely happens if that person is elected. Usually, the process is just too complex for a sound bite to be turned into reality.

But, in my lifetime I can't remember a time when we are being told we are terrified of leaving our homes. We are willing to ignore parts of the Constitution if that is what is required to keep us safe. Even after 9/11, the presentation of a nation in full panic mode wasn't anything like what was presented two nights ago. As a child I was taught to hide under my desk at school if the Cold War turned hot, but no one seemed terribly afraid on a daily basis.

So, my questions for you are quite simple: are you living with this level of fear? Are you terrified of terrorists in our midst? Are you prepared to do most anything to make you and your family safer? Does the threat of terrorism strike close to home?

I have absolutely no doubt that the threat posed by ISIS and others of its ilk are major problems for us. I could argue that the countries in the Mideast are much more at risk and the fight is really theirs. But, as events in Paris and San Bernadino make clear, international terrorism really has no boundaries. It does not respect borders. Our citizens can be hurt or killed by those who believe in a set of rules very different from ours. 

But, I am really wondering if the debate was reflective of reality. Are we ready to do anything to live a fear-free life? Do you see someone on the street or near a school who looks different from you and, if even for just a brief moment, wonder about that person's intentions? With a degree of shame, I admit that has happened to me.

If the debate on Tuesday accurately reflects the mood of the country then my writing about retirement is kind of silly. We have much bigger worries than where is the best place to vacation.

Please don't leave comments that are mostly political point-scoring attempts. Your feelings about our current president or any of the men and women wanting to replace him aren't what I am looking for.

I simply want to know if you believe we are living in a time when fear and panic are becoming the new norm. Are we literally in a battle for our way of life and the future of our nation?  


74 comments:

  1. Hi Bob,
    as an observer from a distance (Australia), it seems to me that whilst you continue to have such relaxed gun laws you do have a problem. The terrorist threat is obviously a concern but personally, when I next visit your country I would be more worried about the general public walking about armed than anything else. The stats that are reported on gun related shootings are just mind boggling. However, linking that to the terrorist threat, the way that handguns and semi auto weapons seem to be readily and legally available must be a terrible problem for your law enforcement agencies. I hope your politicians are strong enough to sort that out.
    I would be fearful to live in your country with your gun laws.

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    1. It is interesting to see the view of someone outside our country.It IS disconcerting to know that here in Arizona anyone can be carrying a weapon,concealed or public . Without a class or a special permit.It IS mind boggling! I hope we enact some legislation as a country,very soon.

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    2. Our gun laws (or lack of them) are totally insane. Even more at odds with reality is the call for more guns after some type of mass shooting. A citizen of the U.S. is much more likely to be shot by a loved one, co-worker, or random fellow citizen than a terrorist. Most of the terrorist-linked shootings in this country have come at the hands of extremist Christians (think abortion clinics or the Oklahoma bombing) or those who are mentally ill (think Colorado movie theaters, Newtown, etc).

      The fear of being gunned down is not something I worry about. But, I do fear the belief too many of my fellow citizens hold that more guns make us safer. All one has to do is look at the shooting statistics in other countries where gun ownership is banned or under logical controls to know that is not true.

      Thanks, Paul, for your long distance perspective.

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  2. I think we are just too young (don't you love that!) to remember the similar hyperbole and some actions of McCarthyism, the internment of Japanese citizens, etc. Playing on fears and irrationality is an old story but pretty scary to see in action knowing that some of those ideas could be implemented.

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    1. The fear we experienced during the Cold War, with the possibility of a nuclear strike and the end of the world, seemed almost benign compared to some of the messages we are hearing today. The Cuban Missile Crisis brought us to the brink of annihilation, but I don't remember real fear being the predominant emotion. Of course, that was well before 24/7 news operations and constant media coverage. We had to wait for the 6pm news or tomorrow morning's paper to be brought up to date. So, the fear machine wasn't being fed constantly.

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  3. We have to remember that these guys are playing to their base in order to get the GOP nomination. The GOP makes up about 20% of the population and about 20% of those are their primary supporters. Doing the math that makes about 5% of the population. I don't doubt that these 5% are stricken with panic about terrorist and maybe even more so that the white population of this country will soon be in the minority. It scares the puddin out of them. BUT, they don't represent even the majority of their party let alone the country.

    I think most of the rest of us put this threat in more perspective. Yes, bad guys are out there but we are much more likely to be killed in a traffic accident, or as Paul mentioned above, by a non-terrorist with a gun.

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    1. You are so correct about the minority reality of these positions. But, one must wonder what the effect is on the rest of us from the full-blown, constant media coverage. That contains the seeds of spreading the fear and distrust to a much wider audience. So, my question: is it succeeding?

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  4. I believe that we have moved into very different times.I work at NOT living a fear based life.. fear solves nothing, but I do have to admit the lock down of the schools in L.A. reminded me that we unfortunately now have a ground war here on our soil..terrorists have figured out that those kinds of threats cause more terror and panic than a large scale 9-11 type event. I don't know what the solutions are, only that a spiritual outlook on Life helps me immensely. I am not going to live each day in fear.I go about my business best I can, with kindness,when I can, and hope and pray for the best.And that we don't elect leaders who promote fear based reactions and prejudice.

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    1. Thank you, Madeline, for the common sense reminder of the power of our faith to keep us focused on the important issues of life. The email that shut down the schools was strictly a hoax. It had nothing to do with terrorism but did use the fear of something bad happening to trigger an over-reaction.

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  5. Honestly, yes, I am concerned about the terror threat here at home. Most of my friends have concealed carry permits and they do carry- men and women. I feel safer because of that (I do not have a permit or gun myself). Less than ten miles from our house a woman was beheaded at work by a coworker wielding a sword- copycat jihadist, I believe, the authorities concluded. He was stopped by the owner of the company who shot him and thus prevented a worse tragedy than had already occurred. Several Oklahoma sheriffs have urged citizens to get concealed carry permits. I do not have a problem with that.
    Jeff

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    1. A beheading in Oklahoma? I was not aware of that instance. Ugh. In that case, the gun helped. But, you and I could have a spirited discussion if the 30,000 gun-related deaths in this country every year are worth the rare instance like you cite where a gun saved a life.

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    2. Bob,
      Here is a link to the beheading: http://www.nbcnews.com/news/crime-courts/man-beheaded-co-worker-moore-oklahoma-workplace-attack-police-n212396. I want to add to my previous comments that I am not afraid; I am more aware of what goes on around me.
      Jeff

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  6. I live in Missouri very near where those large cell phone purchases were made, the explosives were found in the National Forest, and the propane tanks were stolen. So yes, this does concern me. But not to the point of walking around terrified. I am not willing to trade the freedoms of this country for governmental promised security. I am vigilant in my actions, I legally carry a weapon (believe me, Paul Gould, you need not fear us law abiding citizens who simply want to not be defenseless against the criminals), and I know that, ultimately, God is in charge of my life and what happens to it. I am the Republican base RJ refers to. But he's wrong about what scares the puddin out of me. And he's also wrong about being more likely to be killed by a non-terrorist with a gun. A traffic accident, yes, but guns without evil people pulling the trigger don't kill people.

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    1. In countries with strict gun laws, even evil people have a harder time killing others. As I noted in my response to Jeff, 30,000 are shot to death each year in this country. That is 82 a day.

      But, this post isn't about gun control, it is about fear. I like your response that God is ultimately in control of our fate. And, yes, I am much more worried about the inattentive driver or drunk behind the wheel on the freeway than a hate-filled person with a bomb or rifle.

      Thanks, Laurie.

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    2. Isn't it true that 2/3 of those gun deaths were suicides? If thoses poor souls hadn't had a gun, they would have found another way.

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    3. Yes, 63% of yearly gun deaths are suicides. It is too easy to get a gun and use it for whatever purpose, including suicide. While I have no proof, common sense says making suicide more difficult would decrease its occurrence.

      REgardless, that is still a shockingly high rate of death by own's own hand and speaks to our country's need for better mental health care. Thanks, Franco, for clarifying this point.

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  7. Preying on people's fears for political gain? No, that would never happen.. How cynical of me to think such a thing!

    The worst parts for me are our rejection of desparate refugees and promoting the view that the world is a dangerous place. We should be ashamed.

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    1. Our entire history is one of immigrants founding the country and making it better. If someone has been paying attention an increasing percentage of our doctors and dentists are from India or Pakistan, or places other than Ohio and Harvard Medical School. Silicon Valley is home to a huge number of Asian-born, or descended, folks who help drive our technology.

      Never before have we turned our backs on the desperate and hurting the way we seem to be today. Total safety is impossible. A lack of humanity is not.

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  8. I am not in a panic stricken fear for our nation and future nor do I restrict my activities due to terrorism. There has been terrorism in this country long before the current threat of ISIS - think Oklahoma City. Back in the 1980's when I lived in Seattle, there was a home grown plot to blow up the Federal Building where I caught the bus home every night. After the FBI thwarted the terrorists in a shoot out on Bainbridge Island, I continued to wait at the same bus stop every night, not even thinking of walking to another location. I, too, grew up cowering under a school desk during air raid drills. While it is necessary to take the threats seriously and address them, whether they come from inside or outside the United States, we cannot allow these people to rule our lives to the extent of hiding. That's exactly what they want. I do believe some of our current leadership, including candidates, are trying to incite in order to gain support for their agenda, but I also believe most, if not all of them, live in a different reality from the average American. Regardless of party affiliation they are out of step with their constituents. I also agree with Paul. I live in SC where we are armed to the teeth. I'm a constitutionalist, but the right to bear arms was written at a time when a semi-automatic weapon was probably not even a pipe dream. We need tougher laws. As for the internet, certain of our leaders see that as an untapped tax cash cow. Using terrorism as an excuse to regulate and tax it would not be out of the realm of possibilities.

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    1. You make several excellent points, Kathy. We have lived with terrorism in some form since before the Revolutionary War. I am pretty sure British sympathizers viewed the colonists as crazed terrorists. The examples in our history are continuous.

      I agree with you that the vast majority of our fellow citizens do not see a bomb under every rock or death around every corner. You simply cannot live that way. Most of us are probably smart enough to know that defeating an enemy like ISIS or whatever follows it is not as simple as carpet bombing a part of the globe or shutting the gates and living behind walls.

      It was before my time, but I would guess that the threat of Hilter dominating Europe was much more real and terrifying to the man in the street than the current enemies we face.

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  9. I think that we could learn to live with occasional terrorism if we actively wipe out the centers of terrorism. ISIS is a cancer, which needs to be destroyed. A land campaign in Syria and Iraq is necessary to wipe out the principal base of ISIS. We need to bite the bullet and initiate, with our allies, a land campaign.

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    1. When a politician talks about boots on the ground, he or she really means human beings, the lives of our younger generation. People are on the ground, dying or being mained...not just boots.

      That being said, is it the responsibility of moderate governments in the Mideast to put those people on the ground and not us? Our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan should show us the unending costs, in both lives and money, of a ground effort in an area with hundreds of factions and thousands of years of discord. Put out one fire and you can ignite a dozen more.

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  10. Bob great post. I think the "fear" of the average person I'd indeed grossly exaggerated. Instead I think we are living in 1968. I was 13 but I remember it as a horrible time. People now seem as angry and LOST as they did back then. The media only makes it worse. Over Thanksgiving I watched that miniseries about the Pilgrims and their desire for religious freedom. It became a tenant upon which our country was built. As an eternal optimist I do believe that good will prevail now and that the media and politics are behind what you describe. I also believe most people are good. I think there are just a lot of people feeling lost after, and still, due to the bad economic times. I believe it will change. Just hold on for the ride.

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    1. I hope you are right. I believe you are right. This is a period of history that we must keep our collective cool and stick to our beliefs and founding principals.

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  11. I try not to give in to my fears, but I have to admit that I'm not quite as comfortable in a movie theater as I once was and I tend to do my own racial profiling when flying. Other than that, I still feel very safe in my community. I read and watch enough news to know what's going on, but I avoid the political drama and scare tactics.

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    1. Right after 9/11 I was uneasy in large public settings. After San Bernardino I did wonder about the possibility of some type of attack or event at one of the football stadiums packed with people every Sunday.

      But, today, I try to accept the reality that life is not guaranteed to anyone, and that everything could change in an instant. If I want complete security I will have to wait until heaven.

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  12. I am not walking around fearful, but am I more vigilant? You betcha. As a supporter of the 2nd Amendment I make sure I am able to do what I feel necessary to protect my family and loved ones. If others want to defer that defense to the crime-investigating (not crime prevention) authorities, that is their right. I prefer to level the playing field against the bad guys, even if only slightly.

    If you want to call it fear, I am just as fearful of the criminals on the street as I am of terrorists. There are a lot more of the former as far as can be ascertained, and the climate over the last ten years certainly seems to have emboldened them more. We have wide swaths of our cities and towns that are off limits to law-abiding people. We have many crimes such as robbery and rape on the increase (while paradoxically to some, gun crimes have been going down per the FBI.) I believe we all need to do our part and get involved in defending our communities. Speak up about things that are not right, point our individuals engaging in unusual behavior, and ignore the political correctness many want us to tow the line to. We can do much to make things safer if good people stick together during these times.

    Governments down through history use fear to extend their reach. Does it make their citizens "safer"? I believe not; ask Germans from the 1930s how that worked out for them. More surveillance of everyday Americans, under the guise of looking for bad guys, is not the answer. We already had that over the last eight years, and how well did that work out? I want the existing laws enforced, the existing surveillance techniques utilized and enhanced in the right direction, and our law enforcement personnel to be supported in their activities to defend our communities. This has been the opposite of what has been occurring, but it is my opinion on what is required.

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    1. The government's primary responsibility is to protect me. How to best do that is really the question, isn't it.

      I agree with much of what you say, Chuck, but disagree with other parts of your comment. The best thing about our country is we can remain friends and believe in each of our right to speak our peace. That is the freedom that we must fight to protect.

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  13. I grew up with the Polish and Ukrainian immigrants (refugees, some?) who were exiled from their homeland by raiding armies. Four dead in Ohio - when student protesters were shot on American soil? I travelled to England in the late 70's and saw the warnings for suspicious packages posted at the entrance to pubs with the IRA threats. My in-laws immigrated from Ireland where they were poor, poor, poor only to experience more poverty when they arrived in North America. I often think of an Alabama song - we didn't know that Wall Street had fallen because the grass was high and the cotton was still growing. Whose propaganda do I listen to? My consciousness is heightened but I do not live in fear of terrorist attack daily.

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    1. There are two constants in life: change and uncertainty. All of us tend to rebel at both, even though each is inevitable. It is how we react and what that reaction says about us that seem to be most important. A raised awareness level but not letting fear dominate seems a reasonable response.

      Thanks, Mona.

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  14. Couple of thoughts:
    1) Thanks for stating this reality of fear based rehectoric and politics.

    2) Not attacking at all, but I believe the theme of the sentence is what I have come to seriously question "Most of us have been around the block enough times to know that what someone promises to do rarely happens if that person is elected. Usually, the process is just too complex for a sound bite to be turned into reality." Given the broad demographics, age/experience variations and humaneness (and emotion) of voters/people, I seriously doubt if the majority understand or see through or take the time to evaluate the candidates sound bites, rhetoric, promises, bullying, and alleged facts/promises of ads and the debates. They, the candidates (both parties), their minions or their money backers, are not accountable at the end of the day. Congress is no better. The good news is people want change, but sadly still rely the old rhetoric process. I would love to see the debates run by the people to ask the questions and hold the candidates accountable.

    3) ISIS has changed terrorism and it is a true fanatical threat to the world, but less specific to the US (then most other countries) because of the lower Muslim population, they are much more assimilated into U.S. "way of life", overall security is much better and other countries are overall much easier/richer targets for them as this stage. However, the fear they and politicians create and dragging us into another Middle East conflict, are very effective tools for them.

    4) I wish I had some wisdom as to how to change the system of candidates, other than being a really engaged voter.

    Thanks for listening

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    1. We seem to have become a society that allows others to do too much of our thinking for us. Rather than spend the time and mental energy to really understand complex issues, we stick with what we already believe, true or not. We allow ourselves to be educated on an issue by sound bites and talking points. Maybe it is because we feel so disconnected from the political process and disappointed by what has become "leadership," that we worry more about day-to-day concerns of simply living in 21st century America.

      There is a very big difference between what is said to win a primary and what is said to win a general election. That phenomenon is what amazes me. Someone will stake out a far right or left position to appeal to the so-called base, knowing that a more moderate or centrist position will be required later on. Yet the "base" believes the pandering even though experience shows the shift happens every single time.

      Your #3 is spot on (as my British friends would say). I can't begin to believe the American public will allow us to become deeply involved in yet another unwinnable ground conflict in the Middle East.

      #4 speaks to all of us. What can we do?

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  15. Here is what I see. Prices for everything are going up. Going out for dinner? We pay for appetizers what we just paid for a full course meal a few months ago. Health insurance -- don't get me started.

    I am Jewish. I have NEVER been offended in any way about celebrating a joyous Christmas. Wonderful time for everyone. Nor are any of my vast group of friends, children, their friends, etcetcetc .
    I still believe the economy stinks. When children graduate from a respected college or university and can't get a decent job, something is wrong.
    I cannot put my finger on the fault line. I do believe it begins in Washington who " bomb throw" with their words.
    Foreign fears? We have had these fears from time immemorial. Louder now, yes.
    Are we more watchful, yes. Are you going to sell your RV ? Not from fear, certainly. Maybe because of parking issues or disuse, but not fear. Are you going to fly? Yes.
    We hid under our desks during the Cold War when we were kids. We are doing the same thing now, just differently.

    We pray longer now, more often now, cross our fingers more, love and hold our family more now.
    We will get thru this, just like we did the 40's,50's, 60's, 70's, 80's etc again

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    1. Your final paragraph holds the key: pray, love, and hold on tight. Every decade seems to bring its own test of our will and beliefs. Importantly, we are still here.

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  16. First off, I'm a rather level headed, prudent, at times even cautious, person. Also, being a single female who loves to go out to do things, often times alone, I have an almost automatic ingrained alertness about my surroundings, including other people. With this mental set in place, I've never had excessive fear, worries, or concerns about going out and doing things. Let me share with you what was in my mind though when I went to a public event last week, and what is in my mind as I anticipate attending another public event. Sitting in a pre-Christmas daytime organ concert, my mind kept wandering to such thoughts as, "What if someone bursts in right now with an automatic weapon. What would I do?" When a younger man entered a little late and sat off to himself (most in the audience were elder females), I felt a little edginess. I kept reassuring myself with what is now a false reassurance, "Nothing can or would happen HERE--not here where I live--in a small town." What my thoughts made me examine is how much we in the United States assume, when out in public, or attending events, that we will be generally safe. For me, I can honestly say that my feeling of general safety has undergone some erosion. Tomorrow, for nostalgic reasons, I'm attending a noon day showing of the opening of the new Star Wars movie. I have found myself asking if this is "prudent," not because of the anticipated crowds per se, but because of recent terrorist events in crowded venues or gala events, such as this much publicized first day showing. I found myself wondering if there were radicalized individuals in my area. It is a fact that even in my backwater state two young people were arrested a few months back for ISIS related contacts. Are my thoughts, or fears, going to make me stay home, cocoon, and avoid going out? No, but for right now all I can say is, "Not quite yet, but I've felt some erosion of my bravado."

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    1. Thank you for stating what many of us probably have experienced - I know I have. I have those same fleeting thoughts about what would I do, how would I protect someone sitting with me, if the worst happens.

      Importantly, for me anyway, I try to insure I am not thinking just of ISIS type problems, but of anyone of any color and ethnic background when I run through this review. The majority of civilian deaths in this country from someone creating terror (as different from terrorism) have been caused by a single, white male who is angry at someone or something, but not radicalized by a particular religious belief.

      Actually, over the years radicalized Christians have killed more of us than Islamic terrorists. The difference is their targets are much more specific. They don't attempt to create mass panic with random violence.

      With all that being said, like you, I don't live my life in fear, but with a slight increase in awareness.

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  17. I am not fearful - we appear to have far more to fear from 'our own' than we do 'from them' much as we might like to pretend otherwise - Roseburg, Colorado Springs, Isla Vista, Charleston, Ft. Hood, Columbine, Sandy Hook, Oklahoma City - the list of domestic mass killings just goes on and on and on.

    What I am is depressed in my fellow Americans. I had no idea so much hatred against those that are different by proxy of race, religion or sexual orientation still existed here, but our time spent on a recent long cruise with a large number of white, conservative, well-to-do seniors has convinced me it does. The level of hatred, intolerance and _______ism (fill in the blank - we pretty much encountered it all) was mind boggling and utterly, utterly depressing.

    We will be spending almost three months in Europe in 2016, where, ironically, we will likely experience a welcom break from the insanity that currently appears to reside here in the USA.


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    1. We have a lot to talk about in Palm Springs in a few weeks!

      Unfortunately, I can't say I am surprised by what you encountered on the cruise, but am as disappointed as you at the ignorance and racism that continues to be part of our collective lives. Isn't it doubly confounding that the most privileged segment of our society is so quick to judge and condemn.

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  18. I have a friend who is a Christian Syrian. Her family emigrated to the US 60 years ago. Those that remained in Syria have all been killed. Her brothers converted to Muslim. She says that we should fear the moderate Muslims more than the extremists. They hate Christians and cannot wait until they can take over the country. They are very patient people. The San Bernardino shooter bought his guns 4 years before he decided to use them. I refuse to live in fear or let fear change my life but I do think that 30 years down the road we may no longer be a Christian country.

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    1. We may not be a Christian nation in 30 years but I believe that would be due to rise in a secular world view and not because Muslims have "taken over." One thing we will be: a much more ethnically mixed society where whites are in the minority. That will happen regardless of religious or terrorist threats. It is strictly a demographic certainty.

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    2. Karen, I have to interject here. Unlike many of the people talking "about muslims", I come from Washington DC, where my neighbors were from every country and religion and I was a minority. While I do not doubt your friends are sincere, ABSOLUTELY none of my friends hate Christians.my daughter grew up fasting during Ramadan with her best friend and then inviting her to Christmas dinner.

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    3. I think all of the employees in San Bernardino who worked with the shooter were shocked beyond belief to find out that he hated them. He just hid it well. I certainly don't believe all Muslims hate Christians but I think it is more than any of us believe.

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    4. Since there is no way to verify that statement, and since there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world I dont accept that assertion.

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  19. I agree with the comment about McCarthy as many of my parents friends and family lost their professions, lives as they knew it and much more. It didn't affect everybody but it ruined many lives. Many were able to restart and have better lives.

    I lived in Manhattan on 9/11. We weren't scared because we didn't have the time or the energy to be scared. Most of my friends and family had kids ranging from kindergarten to college age. How could you let kids live scared? Everybody got cells and cells for their kids. I would read about spoiled Manhattan kids were and they would always cite cells. It was a safety net---more for parents.

    I hate guns. Nobody needs many of the guns being sold. Is hunting really that important? Why is it easier to get a gun than meds for anxiety? If more people were able to get counseling and meds---maybe.....

    I keep telling myself I no longer care. Really I care so much I can't think about all this.

    My niece spent her junior semester in Paris last spring. She fell in love and is going back on Christmas day. I do feel a bit of fear for her but would never let her know that. Why should she be deprived of travel and excitement when she's paying herself, goes to an Ivy League school, has a paying internship and does volunteer work? Yes she's privileged but gives back so much. I hope that in 50 years she talks about these years as the worst the world knew in her lifetime. But....

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    1. Keeping our kids and grandkids safe is so important, and you have highlighted a very important part of that: not passing on a world view dominated by fear and distrust.

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    2. Good for you.b im a week behind on blogging because I have no idea how to deal with this in a non political way.

      I am much, much more afraid of home grown terrorism, and yes, other countries with more strict gun laws have fewer deaths per capita by far.I will feel safer in Germany when I visit, or in Paris or London than here. And there were armed people at at least two of the recent shootings who made absolutely no difference-in one case a soldier who had the good sense to know that swat would not know the good guys from the bad.

      Aside from that as a single woman I refuse to live in fear. So while I am vigilant and do know what to do if I saw an active shooter, I also go anywhere I would normally.

      I may be in the minority, but as a devout Christian I dont undestand this fear of not being a Christian country.I am more interstellar in being a moral, inclusive country .

      I have some family members who view life as Tamara cruise friend do. One of the reasons I am not minding a smaller Christmas this year.

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    3. If someone believes all humans are made in God's image, that He has a plan that cannot be flawed, and that it is up to God to make the ultimate decision as to who will be saved, it is absolutely none of our business to judge other people and other religions simply because they are different. That reaction literally says God is not in control and we know better than Him.

      I just read an important news piece that says you are much more likely to be a victim of violence if you are a Muslim rather than from a Muslim. That is a sad state of affairs.

      What is a greater sin, casting aspersions against others or ignoring Jesus's teaching to love others as we love ourselves? I am not talking about a lack of protection against bad people, I am talking about a hate against all people who aren't exactly like us.

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    4. Barbara, I have a serious question. You stated you "know what to do if I saw an active shooter." Since your comments appear to indicate you are against guns, my question is what exactly will you do? I am not trying to put you on the spot; I am just interested in how you would approach the situation.

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    5. What any fbi tactician would tell you to do. Run...with you hands visible so the FBI/Swat knows you are not the shooter. In a zig zag pattern, asking people to come with you, but alone if needed. Leave everything behind and go. Most people in mass sjootings freeze in shock or hide under the proverbisl desk in plain sight. Hide, if possible in a place where the door stays open so you don't raise suspicion.Don't come out until a cop finds you. In a last ditch situation when you have no choice f fight. But not with gun. An armed person is ten times more likely To be shot by swat,a cop, or another bad guy even if they are a good guy. In a last ditch situation, be agressive and violent and act in numbers. Think of the soldiers in Belgium who were off duty.

      I spent twenty years on military bases. Note that taking a gun and shooting is not on the list and I know of only one place that maybe that tactic was sucessful, and that 2as on a military base where all the victims were excellent shots and had weapond. The guy who took Hassan down came from another room as I recall and was not one of those being shot at.

      Sorry, but you did ask.

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    6. Oh, and im typing this at night on my phone so forgive the many typos.

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    7. What any fbi tactician would tell you to do. Run...with you hands visible so the FBI/Swat knows you are not the shooter. In a zig zag pattern, asking people to come with you, but alone if needed. Leave everything behind and go. Most people in mass sjootings freeze in shock or hide under the proverbisl desk in plain sight. Hide, if possible in a place where the door stays open so you don't raise suspicion.Don't come out until a cop finds you. In a last ditch situation when you have no choice f fight. But not with gun. An armed person is ten times more likely To be shot by swat,a cop, or another bad guy even if they are a good guy. In a last ditch situation, be agressive and violent and act in numbers. Think of the soldiers in Belgium who were off duty.

      I spent twenty years on military bases. Note that taking a gun and shooting is not on the list and I know of only one place that maybe that tactic was sucessful, and that 2as on a military base where all the victims were excellent shots and had weapond. The guy who took Hassan down came from another room as I recall and was not one of those being shot at.

      Sorry, but you did ask.

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    8. I appreciate your reply, Barbara. I guess I would have to ask what you would have done in the case of the CO movie theater shooting, or the recent San Bernardino conference room terrorist attack, since nothing you stated would apply there or any other confined area. I have a black belt in karate and at 6'4" I have no problem being physical, but I cannot traverse the distance between myself and the bad guys as quickly as a well-fired bullet.

      If you get a chance you should look at the NRA website, specifically at the columns entitled "The Armed Citizen". They are merely a reprinting of various incidents around the country, taken from the local newspapers, that detail people using weapons to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their property. It might help to show that what the media prints about what is happening in the real world is grossly out of touch with reality. And best of luck to you and everyone else here. Whether you are pro or anti-gun, I truly hope none of us have to ever take out a gun and pull that trigger in self-defense. It is nothing to take lightly.

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    9. The exchange between ChuckY and Barbara is why I continue to blog and love my readers: a heartfelt, intelligent, non-abusive exchange of differences and beliefs. Thank you for keeping this blog one for adults who care and share.

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  20. "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" - Not sure if that was FDR or Donald Trump.

    Fear of terrorist attacks, fear of a hole in the ozone layer, fear of a government shutdown, fear of eating red meat, fear of Ronald Reagan, fear of vaccinations, fear of a collapsing currency, fear of FEMA death camps, fear of ebola in America, fear of putting your family at risk because you're not driving a Volvo. Heck, I know people who are afraid to update their Adobe Reader without checking with me first.

    Whether it's cable news or Infowars or politicians or eco-zealots, there is someone around EVERY corner peddling fear. We need to realize that a lot of the fear mongering is just a matter of someone playing us for their own personal gain (ratings, election results, selling gold bullion at a ridiculous premium, etc...).

    Real fear? Asking that cute girl from home room for a date.

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    1. You made me smile with the cute girl reference. That used to terrify me!

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    2. WOW! Bob,I guess you know what topics draw HUGE comments! All this is overwhelming! I am a thinker.I follow news,I enjoy political discourse. I have my opinions.But, for me, it come down to: Acting LOCALLY.I have NO IDEA how to solve the huge problems.. but I know on a daily basis, in my own community, in my neighborhood, in my faith community, in Gilbert and within my friendship and extended family circle I can be kind, not racist, I can assist ANYONE in my community regardless of race or religion or gender preference or whatever-preference ( HOW MANY THINGS do we need to be politically correct about these days ! ) One of my spiritual teachers said "For the forest to be green, the trees must be green."SO I make myself as green as I can, and I try to help my circle of influence be green, and eventually, you know,maybe a lot of the forest might be green????? Simplistic? I'm not stupid. But still..what can I do, one person..I can NOT live in fear.I I'm human,I worry form time to time, but-- I still get up and just go about my Life..and I can just buck up and do what is in front of me and share my bounties whenever and wherever I can, locally..and pray it spreads out-- from there..

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    3. Other posts over the last few months have generated lots of comments that come back to the importance of one-on-one relationships, whether for love and friendship, or helping to make our community a better place. You are saying the same thing regarding this issue.

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  21. As a person who was the victim of a bombing, by an extreme Islamic group, it seems fear is a state of mind that one has to get past in order to live a full life. It only took me 20 years of PTSD to come to that conclusion.
    People are people where ever you go. Some are easy and some have chosen an alternate path. The people who bombed us were of the "same religion" as the people who stuck our wounded in private cars and drove them to the hospitals.

    You need to always know your exits, be careful of your surroundings, have a good first aide kit and live your life.
    No gun in my wallet, but a really great magazine rolled up when walking in a strange area. I do store food. That was a steep learning curve for me after being stuck for 10 days during an ice storm.

    I do think that it is important to give up some of our license in order for the law to track people who intend to do massive harm. I assure you that WAY more plots have been caught and taken down then you and I will ever know. Like the police, there are a few who are crazy, but most are only interested in keeping you as safe as they can.
    Of course they cannot keep you out of your car--where you are way more likely to die then in a plot anyway.

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    1. As someone with first hand knowledge I am so glad you have given us your perspective. It is one of awareness and caution but not fear or panic.

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  22. Fear, no, much, much, much, more aware - yes!

    Earlier this week we had an armed robbery at the university where I work, IN the library! At gun point, a student was robbed of their laptop and cell phone. Being an urban setting, always assumed a mugging would happen on the way to the library, not in it.

    I do remember doing the duck & cover drills under the desk in the early 60s at school. Sadly, I find myself, at 60 years old, hiding under my cubicle desk at work during a recent 'active shooter' drill.

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    1. Hiding under the desk again...that is sad. I have not heard of an "active shooter" drill. I guess it makes sense, but speaks volumes about how far gone our society's fascination with guns is.

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    2. Just like we do fire drills (stop what you are doing and leave the building) our campus police arranged the active shooter drill. Even though it was a drill, it was actually scary and very intense as they fired guns with blanks and you had no idea of what was going on or where the active shooter(s) was. Yes it does speak volumes that the institution required us to do this.

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  23. Not afraid. If I were, I wouldn't have spent last night in an RV in a Walmart parking lot, or be heading to Six Flags this weekend. As others have mentioned, the media is what fuels this, as it drives their viewership. Violence is down, but you'd think it's up based on the media... in fact we just hear about every small town incident that never made the news before nationwide news networks. Try going on a "low information diet" and see what happens! http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/10/01/the-low-information-diet ... by the way, if it's uncool for me to be posting a link to someone else's blog here, please feel free to delete this. It just seemed relevant to the conversation and is an insightful article. -Mike

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    1. I listed mrmoneymustache for awhile on my blogroll, so no problem with the link, Mike. I will read it.

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  24. Very interesting question, Bob, with an interesting discussion. I am not afraid and I don't personally know anyone who is -- but I also live in rural Maine where people go out of their way to help strangers and most people don't lock their doors. That said, I think there are people in Maine who are afraid, because this state, too, has adopted a law that anyone can carry a concealed weapon (and it was my local state senator who sponsored the legislation to make this possible). Like Madeline, I am much more worried about some angry person with a weapon in a meeting or campground or parking lot than I am about terrorism -- especially because it seems as though the portion of the electorate who is afraid seems to overlap a lot with the portion who are habitually angry. -Jean

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    1. I think you are correct about the overlap between fearful and angry, which is the topic for another post. I must admit there is a little fear when Betty and I are in an RV in the middle of the woods, but not enough to carry a weapon.

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  25. Interesting article in NYT this week, "‘Run, Hide, Fight’ Is Not How Our Brains Work."

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/20/opinion/sunday/run-hide-fight-is-not-how-our-brains-work.html

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  26. Terrorism is about creating fear. It's working, apparently.

    I'm not the least afraid of this current issue. Risk is part of life. When we were in Austria this fall our lives intersected with about 300 refugees in the Salzburg train station. No fear there at all. Calm. Determination. Wanting a place to call home.

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    1. Risk is part of life, whether from a poorly driven car, an infected restaurant meal, an investment that goes bad...or a terrorist. We cannot allow fear to define our life and our reaction to it.

      Thanks, Linda.

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  27. I'm retired military and a Gulf War vet. I also lived in an Islamic country for two years (not on a military base) and got to see what a difference religious beliefs can make in a person's behavior and value system. We Americans, in general, do not understand how big a difference non-Judeo Christian cultures can be to us because we are used to calibrating religious tensions on an inter-Christian scale (e.g.,Catholic vs. Baptist) or between Christians and Jews, who have mostly similar values. But the Islamic vs. Christianity calibration involves a more stark contrast and adjustment. I think if we take a 100-year view, Islamic refugees will assimilate well into the U.S. even though for those of us alive today there are changes underway that will bring a "new normal" that won't be comfortable and which will require more vigilance. But we don't have to be "afraid" or to live in stark-raving fear. It's like when you move from a small town to the big city; the opportunity for bad things to happen are modified by the greater number of people in a small area. It'll take heightened situation awareness and some adjustment but we can accommodate all cultures and still live good lives.

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    1. Very well said, especially from someone who has lived with the differences. I am sure most Americans would be stunned to know that Jesus appears in the Koran and is considered an important prophet. So does Abraham and other old testament figures.

      The point is there are links between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. While the interpretations of those similarities are significantly different, it would be helpful to understand all the world's people are struggling to understand the unexplainable.

      We have an uncomfortable, and dangerous, transition period ahead of us. But, fearing it will not make it go away, rather strengthen its impact on us.

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  28. I am less afraid of terrorists than of humanity becoming so exclusive to those of different faiths, color, or birth country that we lose what makes us special. Day to day, I am not scared but if I think hard, I fear for my grandchildren.

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    1. The "lock the doors and let no one else in" is not how this country was built, nor how it will survive and prosper. Like you, I do have fear for the world my grandkids will have to experience long after I am gone.

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