Most of what we fear in life never becomes true. As children we were afraid of the shadows in our bedroom and that the Boogeyman would come and take us away. As adults, most of our fears switch to lack of security. Fear that our home would be broken into, our family will be harmed or fear of lack of financial security. Regardless of what frightens us, most of us will admit we’re living with some form of fear and/or anxiety.
Fear of sickness from COVID-19, fear of job loss or economic collapse, fear of racist cops, fear of rioters, looters on the streets that are openly committing harm to property or others. If you believe cable news, there is much to be afraid of ... and we are.
Gun dealers across the country are selling their shelves empty. Citizens are stocking up on toiletries and food supplies, buying guns at a record pace and loading up on ammunition. What’s driving these actions?
Fear is a healthy sensation, as it can keep some of us from what I’ll call the “Oh yeah? Hold my beer” syndrome. Fear kept our early ancestors from being eaten by saber-toothed tigers. I can go on, but you get the picture. However, fear can also make you react irrationally at times where rational thinking is needed. Fear can negatively impact your health and ruin your life.
I grew up in an anti-gun family. My dad didn’t like guns nor want one in the house. For most of my life, I never wanted a gun, but 25 years ago we moved out onto 40 acres and coyotes where everywhere. I still didn’t buy a gun as I felt the coyotes had just as much of a right to be here as I did. But as our two beloved dogs began to age, the coyotes would try to lure them away from the house and we had our clash with nature ... so I bought a shotgun. Mostly for the noise, I thought I’d scare they coyotes off and did.
Now, as I age, I began worrying about being out and away from civilization and bought my first hand gun. A Smith & Wesson 357 magnum now sits on my nightstand next to me as I sleep. Rational? I think so. But at what risk?
Last night, the dreaded intrusion happened. I was asleep and heard a commotion on our side deck. Our door was open and only the screen separated us from the apparent intruder that began pushing on the screen. I rolled out of bed, grabbed my handgun, crawled to the screen and there he was. The biggest opossum I’d ever seen. He growled at me, then slowly walked away, never knowing that all three of us — me, Smith & Wesson — were poised to send him to opossum heaven. He was just a friendly neighbor out for a walk. I recognize that I moved into his neighborhood. He isn’t trespassing in mine. I also realize fear almost caused me to pull the trigger. It was a wake-up call for me. Relax.
I think in normal times, I’d have sleepily gotten out of bed, walked to the door, looked, smiled, said a friendly word to a curious visitor and climbed back into bed … but something has changed.
Before we start shooting each other …
Let’s take a breath. Relax. Step away from our fear and understand what’s driving our anxiety.
The news is frightening. A bad cop murdered a relatively harmless suspect on television. Statues being torn down, stores looted and burned. Innocent civilians are being killed. It’s all real. Television pundits stoking the fires and encouraging lawlessness are also real, while municipalities are voting to defund or disband local law enforcement.
On CNN an ignorant pundit, while encouraging rioters and looters shouted, “Show me where it says public protest should be peaceful!” Well ... Look no further than the First Amendment.
“... the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
I think peaceably is a key word here. I’m mailing Chris Cuomo at CNN a copy of our Constitution, with the First Amendment tagged to make it easy for him to find without having to read too much. I highlighted the word “peaceably” in hopes he might understand.
And it’s not just CNN. Fox News photoshopped images allegedly depicting “CHAZ/CHOP” to escalate fear. MSNBC is full of fearmongering. There is not much real news on cable, especially after 8 p.m. EST. Only ideological agendas designed to frighten us.
My longtime friend, Tim Duggan’s says, “This is all driven by a 24-hour news cycle, that is driven by ratings, which networks found can be driven by fear.” He’s right. Fear is an effective ratings tool.
There is a drive, which I agree with, to license police officers. Maybe there should be the same for political pundits and politicians. I get the feeling lately that most have little knowledge of civics or American history. If a pundit, while on the air, is encouraging others to commit crimes, shouldn’t he or she be charged with a crime? I think it’s largely our political pundits on cable news driving much of the fear and anxiety on both sides.
I’m not talking about prohibiting free speech. I am recognizing that screaming “fire” in a crowded theater where there is no fire is prohibited. Promoting and encouraging others to commit crimes, using your platform on an international cable show is even more dangerous. Why is it not prohibited?
“Common Sense Americans” need to relax and be more discerning about what voices we allow into our heads and hearts. The nation is in turmoil. We have problems that must be addressed but we cannot allow a group of irresponsible talking heads on cable news to drive us over the edge ... and they are working overtime to do so. They are mixing news of the day with “False Evidence Appearing Real (FEAR)” to drive their political agenda. And make no mistake about it. There is little real news available to us on television. It’s all sensationalized to drive an ideology. Do you still wonder why we are afraid?
What can we do to relieve this fear and anxiety?
Let’s start with recognizing that an Opossum is just an Opossum. Maybe our fear is misdirected. Is it possible that sensationalized media is the true source of our national fear and not each other?
Shut them out. Turn them off. We are smarter and better than this.
— Gary W. Moore is a freelance columnist, speaker, and author of three books including the award-winning, critically acclaimed, “Playing with the Enemy.” Follow Gary on Twitter @GaryWMoore721 and at garywmoore.com.
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