The Elixir of Fear

FearPredictably, moments after reports that there’d been a terrorist attack in Paris, my twitter feed lit up with conclusions that Obama had once again failed us; that what was happening in Paris was his fault. Also predictably, those twitter comments didn’t identify the culprits as true believers in radical Islamic Fundamentalism, but rather, yes, the culprit was the sitting President of the United States. I don’t understand this. No, I take that back. I do understand this because it’s symptomatic of the mindset of many Americans who have embraced their own theocratic mumbo jumbo to the extent that rationalizing these kinds of events has become easy, no problem at all: The fault lies with the black man (Satan, of course) who lives in the White House, was born in Kenya, who embraces Islam, and cares not a whit about God (the Christian version), guns, guts, and apple pie which, as we all know, made this country great. God did, after all, write our Constitution. Sound familiar? Sure, it does. In fact, I think every GOP presidential hopeful subscribes to all or most of this mindset, as well as the Hallelujah chorus of supporters they’ve garnered for themselves. Why, the very idea of a New Millennium Christian Crusade blest by the Almighty to utterly destroy the Muslim infidels is surely going to be on the table when one of “ours” takes over the Lincoln bedroom. Yessir! Amen!

While walking the dog a few nights ago, a couple hours after the news from Paris had certainly traveled far and wide, I heard gunshots off in the distance. My immediate conclusion was that some halfwit was girding up for the imminent invasion of Park County Colorado by the Godless Muslim hordes who’d attacked Paris, surely aided by minions of the Obama Administration hell-bent on taking our guns and apple pie away, (besides our religious beliefs, our health, our patriotism, our flag, our freedoms, etc., etc., etc.).

Lord have mercy…

There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world today, 5 million in France alone. If all of these folks believed in what drives the Islamic State movement (ISIS) to do what they do—the Paris and Beirut attacks of late, the beheadings, the most literal interpretation of the Quran—then maybe Park County Colorado is indeed in danger. I mean, if seven, just seven out of 5 million Muslims in Paris could be recruited to do what they did there, then… Wow! Park County is surely next. (I’m cleaning and oiling my 1911 Remington .45 caliber semi-automatic gut buster right now. I will be ready!)

The world is a dangerous place these days. We all know that. Some of us even believe that the POTUS is aware of that sad fact, too. Most of us realize that war no longer fits the conventional perception we all once had of it. War is still hell. No doubt about that. But, I think it’s taken on a creepy new reality. One where if you’ve got yourself some Christian learning, all things become clear: We’ve already been invaded, Obama is the ultimate terrorist, and, by God, one, just one Syrian refugee stepping foot on US soil is doomsday in the making. (Kind of harkens back to the way a lot of “true” Americans once viewed the immigration of the Irish, the Italian, the Chinese, the Mexicans, etc., etc., to my country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty.)

Oh, and that thing about us being a Christian nation? Believers in the Bible? Let’s review Matthew 25:41-46, shall we: 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ 44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Some may argue that American Christians have already failed their God. What with the homelessness and poverty already extant in this country. And what about our veterans? Have they become “strangers” to us all? Some may argue, Well, we need to take care of our own before we take on one, even one Syrian refugee. I would agree with that if it weren’t for the fact there’s a problem: If you are truly a Christian, you must understand that Jesus didn’t construct any filter, or rating system, or exclusions when he spoke through Matthew’s writings about the sick, the homeless, the thirsty, the imprisoned.

I think America is better than this. Since when did fear become so invasive in our daily lives? Since when do we all see the bogeyman every time we turn a corner? Oh, I think I know when this happened anew (I say “anew” because it’s happened before). I think this all began in its most recent form sometime around 9/11. Was that a reason to be fearful? Of course it was. The thing is, though, the fear engendered by that horrible event was preserved by some very clever folks who bottled it all up and stuck a label on it. They labeled it: ELIXIR FOR SUCCESS. And, Voila!, those clever folks have been dispensing out a little portion from those bottles for a while now. And who are those clever folks? Why they’re the shepherds of the fearful flocks, the same flocks they’ve been priming with the fear juice for years. Haven’t yet figured who the shepherds are? Well, we can define them by the fears they’ve instilled in their flocks: gay marriage; a woman’s right to her own body, her own decisions; Mexicans, and more Mexicans; the minimum wage; confiscation of our guns; a black president; voting rights; universal health care; old farts on social security; poor folks on Medicaid; food stamps; campaign finance reform; and, yes, refugees that don’t happen to be Christian. Oh, there’s more of course. I could go on for a long time. But, I hope you get the point. Clever shepherds, huh?

I haven’t ingested even a thimble full of the elixir of fear. I’m not afraid. I’m an American, and fear is something that I know defeats the very essence of what it means to be an American. And, in case I haven’t been clear, America is not a theocracy, and never will be. That’s the point of America isn’t it? Besides abjuring any notions that some people are better, more deserving of the promise of America than others? (Yeah, there is that wee issue about oligarchy, and the inescapable conclusion that, by definition, America has become one. That needs to be fixed. Soon.)

So, this evening, after I’ve made sure my 1911 Remington .45 semi-automatic gut buster is in good working order, I think I’ll set it aside, and put it back in the wool-lined case I keep it in. I keep the weapon in good condition because my father gave it to me, not because I fear what I might have to use it for some day—a home invader, maybe, that, up here, will more likely be a bear than a man. I don’t fear those kinds of things. Life is too short, too precious, too fulfilling to imagine the bogeyman is coming for me, much less sleeping in the Lincoln bedroom.

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