January 20, 2016
Times change, but we don’t have to.
I’ve lived long enough that I recognize most things seem to come in cycles—and, not only that, they don’t come to stay, they really do come to pass.
We’ve all been saddened by the start to the New Year, and the number of celebrities who’ve died, unexpectedly. Someone said to me, “They’re dropping like flies! What is going on?” I only shrugged, because I know this has happened before. I recall more than once thinking the same thing, when several actors or singers or noteworthy people have passed, seemingly one right after the other in a short span of time.
The weather is bad, many have been hit with record cold spells and some have been enduring horrible storms, but you know we’ve done that before, too. I’m not saying the general decline in the climate is not something to worry about. I’m just saying, it’s not a completely unheard of, never-before-experienced phenomenon—to set record lows or record highs and endure horrific storms. There have been blizzards and ice storms, tornadoes and floods, always.
Rhetoric in the political arena seems to be heated and nasty, but there’ve been times like this before. It seems to be particularly virulent this year, with threats against entire races—and religions. There were the same kind of controversies during past war times against Asians and Germans; and during the Second World War, more than just rhetoric as Asian Americans and Asian Canadians were actually rounded up, and had all their possessions and assets confiscated permanently while they were put into “internment” camps just because they looked different. They were Asian. Go back further and heck, there were heated debates around the theme of eugenics, and for a long time before World War 1, the United States was an isolationist nation—something some people say is on the verge of happening again.
If you change who you are based on the world around you, then you put yourself into the position of always having to react, and always having to change because very little in life is static. Why bother going to that trouble? Just be you. It’s really a better bet over the long haul.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t re-evaluate certain stances you’ve taken, especially if it comes to light that your previous ones were based on false information, fear, or hatred. It’s never wrong to let go of the negative and to embrace the positive.
But do not let this unremitting fear that is filling the air, fear that is fueled by those with their own political or social agendas, make you so terribly afraid. Do not let it affect you so that you turn aside your humanity.
Are you a parent? Then why don’t you recognize what some of these people want you to feel? How many times did you tuck your child into bed at night, and they trembled with fear, because the bogey man was going to get them? You reassured them, didn’t you? You looked under their beds and in their closets, and showed them what?
You showed them there was nothing there, and nothing to be afraid of. Of course, it’s not that simple. There are dangers in this modern age that we here in North America never had to face until recent times. And now we do face the same threats those in Europe and the Middle East have been dealing with for decades, and yes, it can be very scary.
But when we trade healthy fear for mass hysteria, when we then re-enact the worst episodes in our nations’ histories—or plan to—it is time to stop, and return to who we really are—our thinking selves. Our humane selves. Times do change, but we don’t have to.
Let’s please put the rabble rousing elements of society back on the fringe where they belong. Because the truth is, to paraphrase Franklin Delano Roosevelt, fear really is our greatest enemy. Or in his exact words (from his inaugural address): “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...”
Wise words. Let’s heed them.