In far more dangerous times than ours, parents taught their children myths and fairy tales about the dangers of the outside world. Cultures created monster stories, creatures that would eat the children if they were not good. Sometimes the dangers were real, but the monsters created by the community were intended to be even more frightening to make children obey the rules. Fairy tales were filled with such dangers, not simply as entertainment, but as a teaching mechanism.
Do we need these kinds of monsters today in our community and even personal lives? Do such monsters help us or hinder us? Do political leaders create them to keep citizens in line? Do they enhance the dangers of real concerns to get and keep power for themselves? Doesn't fear always take away the power of the one who is afraid?
Since I was a child, in the United States, there has always been a monster, an enemy, someone to fear, someone who is the boogeyman in the night, someone all people are taught to fear, the bad guy who will destroy us if we don't do something. All politicians (and their helpers in the media) are willing to tell us what that something is.
I am not saying there are not real enemies. I saw the headlines about Iran testing missiles capable of reaching Israel (we all know Israel already had them capable of reaching Iran). Maybe Iran wants the world as an enemy; and it's why they do such things, but what about us? What are we getting out of it?
Iraq was built up as being such a monster, one capable of somehow harming even countries thousands of miles away. Hussein was a danger to his own people, to the weaker surrounding countries, but the monster our government created bore little resemblance to his actual power.
I read this morning that someday when Iran has nuclear weapons, they will sell them to terrorists and it will be Obama (or his ilk) that can be blamed when an American city is suitcase nuked. So let me get this straight. We should worry about Iran having nuclear power but it's okay in Pakistan? Already having it makes it okay and we don't need to worry what they might do with it? We will talk to the bad guys who have it already but not the ones who might get it?
Pakistan is who we believe sold nuclear secrets to North Korea and who knows where else. Pakistan had the scientist who did all of this, was charged, found guilty, and then pardoned by the government... huh?! Pakistan is who has been hiding bin Laden. Pakistan is where there is a powder keg politically that threatens toppling the existing government at any point, but Pakistan is on our friend list. This gets a bit confusing.
Those who seek power benefit from monsters, and they have an ample supply in the world from which to choose. Terrorists are definitely to be concerned about, but the fear that the Bush administration and now McCain are attempting to use to take away American liberties, to torture possibly innocent people, to keep power, that form of political terrorism has been working even without further violent acts by radical Jihadists. Their work of spreading terror is being done for them by the politicians.
What if we as citizens (in every country) keep our eye on the ball, focus on the things that we feel will give our citizens a better life, that will help the world where we can, and we do not allow fear to dictate our choices? What if we have firm opinions on what the country should do and we don't allow any terrorist attack or fear talk to sway us?
What if we don't let fear control us in our personal lives either? What if we are as brave as our ancestors, the ones who pioneered, who stepped out into wildernesses, and we take on enemies when they come, not let ourselves be controlled by the fear of something that isn't yet there? Terrorism is bad but are people staying off freeways because so many are killed each year on them? What makes terrorism more to be feared than getting in an automobile for a Sunday drive (other than the gas price)?
It is reasonable to take protective measures, but we don't need to feel terror to do that (at least not until in the midst of a real attack where often the terror serves a purpose of increasing adrenaline and giving us the power to react). What if we, as a people, worked to recognize real dangers (not magnify them); then deal with them responsibly, not in an emotional panic-- most of all that we didn't let ourselves be manipulated into giving up our own power.
What if... or is all of that a fairy tale as much as the boogeyman?