America’s Night Terrors

When I was a young boy, I had a normal fear of the nightmares that plague so many children.  I would try my best to go to bed in a good frame of mind so I would have only sweet dreams, but my efforts to banish Frankenstein, Dracula, and The Wolf Man from my thoughts backfired miserably.  Such is the nature of our fears; having been implanted in our minds, they are almost impossible to banish.

Fear is a reflex, an important component of our inherent survival mechanisms, and automatic hyper vigilance kept our ancestors alive in a cruel and pitiless world full of predators and unknown dangers.  However, the catalogue of horrors relentlessly pounded into our collective consciousness today by politicians seeking votes, journalists seeking attention, and an entertainment industry happy to substitute a pointless adrenal rush for a cogent plot and careful character development have all contributed to produce a nation that seems to exist on the ragged edge of nervous exhaustion.

Welcome to America in 2021. We are consumed and ruled by our terrors—both real and imagined.  Every day introduces a new apocalypse, yet we get no relief from the constant state of alarm induced by so many other previous predictions of our imminent doom.  

Each heavy rain or protracted dry spell presages ecological collapse.  The insects are dying.  Democracy is at risk.  Bigotry is everywhere.  Coral reefs are shrinking.  Our cell phones are giving us brain cancer.  Wildfires are burning out of control.  The legitimacy of our elections is in serious doubt.  Viruses—both biological and digital—are everywhere.  Holding unpopular beliefs is risky.  Crime is rampant, and armed gangs rule many parts of our major cities.  Military threats and economic disasters abound.  Our President might have dementia.  Our electronic devices—and government—are spying on us constantly.  Our words or actions might be misconstrued and our lives ruined by a social media mob.  Our children’s minds are being programmed by schools that do not educate and a culture enamored with depravity.  The cost of every daily need and want is escalating obscenely.  Illegal immigration is out of control—again.  Robots are stealing our jobs.  Our food chain is filled with toxins, dangerous genetic modifications, and carcinogens.  Wildlife is growing wilder and more aggressive.  Sexual relations (or any relations at all) are a minefield of potential litigation.  We are alone in a world that cares little for our existence, and the comforts of family and faith are constantly ripped from our yearning grasp.

Whew!  We must need a beer.  Or perhaps, better yet, some Prozac or Valium.  Of course, our societal reliance on alcohol and drugs of all kinds is a telling symptom of the damage done to our mental health by all the ongoing efforts to terrify us into dull and depressed submission to authority.

Many of our fears have a kernel of truth buried within them; many others are wildly exaggerated or just plain falsehoods spun by those craving attention, votes, or money.  However, the cumulative effect of inducing shivering panic from our childhoods on through our adult lives is a grinding down of our resilience and a corrosion of our spirits.  Blasted with dire warnings on a daily basis, we quickly become unable to filter and evaluate the screaming sirens and breathless admonitions that politicians and the media employ to suck the joy from our daily lives.  We grow frustrated, get angry, and feel helpless—and we have no idea where to turn for relief.

It might be worth remembering that, despite what we read and hear from the doomsayers, we live in a world of incredible safety and comfort compared to the deadly challenges that faced our ancestors.  Few Americans sleep on vermin-infested straw.  Wolves don’t roam our towns at night and slaughter the unwary.  Our gangrenous limbs are not sawed off without anesthesia.  No matter how egregiously we insult our rulers, our severed heads will not be displayed at the city gates.

Nonetheless, we have many reasons to be concerned about the state of our nation.  We do have problems that require sober thought to analyze—and will perhaps require grim sacrifices to solve.

However, we cannot take a single sensible step forward until we learn to not be paralyzed by the monsters hiding in our closets.  We are fortunate to live in a modern country with innumerable tools and technologies at its disposal that could—if we could only focus on the real rather than the imagined—be used to heal our nation during these difficult days.

Unfortunately, both the leadership and solutions now being offered to Americans are short on common sense—and are driven by fear rather than hope—so we typically end up fighting with one another and seizing upon solutions offered by hucksters and hypocrites.  

Whether we are being told that plugging 15 million electric cars into California’s unreliable electrical grid is a great idea, skin color defines our lives, or open national borders are safe, all manner of fear-based public policies are ruining our lives, wasting our money, and putting our nation at risk.

And then there is the endless Covid-19 terror, which is all too reminiscent of medieval panics over witches and hobgoblins—a bug-eyed fixation short on fact but long on crazy.

For example, the public health department in the central Illinois county where I live has just announced that, as of this month, 169 people have died due to the Coronavirus.  Do the math: 169 deaths divided by 18 months of lockdowns and shutdowns that have bankrupted businesses, driven up suicides, increased drug and alcohol usage, raised the rates of domestic violence, and robbed students of their educations.  Working with the official government statistics, my county has suffered roughly nine excess deaths per month, which have typically stricken those who are old and sick, since we began all this governmentally-sanctioned fear mongering.  

Now we are being told we must hunker down in response to the “Delta Variant”, nomenclature which I assume is supposed to conjure up scary associations with the U.S. Army’s deadly Delta Force commandos.  What is rarely discussed is that the symptoms of this so-called Delta Variant are pretty much those we associate with a bad head cold: body aches, mild fever, congestion, and a runny nose.  Darned frightening, isn’t it?

As with virtually every known virus, Covid-19 is clearly unkind to the ill and elderly, but we have known since April of last year that the initial apocalyptic death projections, which often seemed to come from supposed experts aligned with the pharmaceutical industry, were outrageously inflated in order to create maximum terror and obedience.  

Moreover, the World Health Organization finally, and belatedly, admitted this past winter that the PCR tests commonly used to diagnose Covid-19 infections produce enormous numbers of false positive results, which has both dramatically increased the number of confirmed cases and inflated the number of deaths attributable to an infection with this virus.  Added to this, it is now increasingly apparent that natural immunity resulting from a prior Covid-19 infection, which may itself have been asymptomatic, confers an immunity as good—or perhaps even better—than any vaccine currently available.  Now is not a time for more panic; it is the time to learn lessons from our past panicky mistakes.

It makes perfect sense to restrict access to senior living facilities and health care settings in order to reduce infection risk.  However, the rest of us should be free to live our lives, children should be allowed to cavort and attend school without masks or vaccines if they wish, workplaces and public accommodations should not restrict entrance unless a person is clearly ill, and the blanket liability protection that has allowed the pharmaceutical industry to experiment on Americans should be immediately revoked so that some much-needed accountability can return while decision making based on our mindless terrors can be abandoned for good.

In other words, it’s time to stop fearing and start living.

This will, sadly, be easier said than done.  There is no money to be made nor political influence to be gained for the Covid-19 grifters if Americans start living their lives without a taxpayer-funded bureaucracy peering over their shoulders.  Without fear, there can be no crisis; without a crisis, there is no further justification for trillions of dollars of government spending that are supposedly rescuing us.  Worse yet, citizens who are no longer terrified into compliance might start asking tough and inconvenient questions, which is going to be awfully uncomfortable for those who have spent the last 18 months merrily profiteering off the misery they helped to create.

The biggest problem we now have may be finding the strength to abandon the terrors that our elected officials, their bureaucratic minions, and their helpful handmaidens in the media have worked so very hard to implant in our souls.

At his first Presidential Inauguration in 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt exhorted Americans to find their courage, explaining that “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Nearly ninety years have passed since that pivotal moment in American history, but this same advice needs to be repeated today—again and again and again—to a nation that has been terrified, confused, and desperate for far too long.  

No politician can guarantee safety, no celebrity can tell you how to best live your life, and no bureaucrat can abolish risk.  It is up to all of us to put our fears aside and live our lives with vigor, joy, and hope.  To condemn ourselves to a prison bricked up by the doomsayers now infesting our politics and media outlets would be the worst of all possible choices for America and Americans.

The time to make our escape is now.

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