Published On: Mon, Jan 11th, 2016

EDITORIAL: Fear Factor   




I have never been a gloom and doom person. I do, however, believe that each of us would be crazy not to see the signs that our world, and in some cases, our local communities are becoming more dangerous places to be. Right?

There is a current media frenzy to promote everything from banning certain types of speech to limiting the ways citizens protect their homes, using fear as their primary way to gain support. It is not the first time the media’s characterization of events has been used to garner support for a position.

In 1946, John Hershey wrote a documentary article titled “Hiroshima” that was eventually made into a book. The article follows six survivors of the Hiroshima nuclear bombing at the end of World War II. These eyewitnesses give their accounts to Hershey in graphic detail, beginning with where they were and what they were doing leading up to the “noiseless flash of light” that signaled the detonation and the changing of their lives forever. Interestingly, these people were used to air raid sirens, bomb shelter drills and emergency preparedness on a scale that few Americans are accustomed. After all, they were living in a country that dealt with homeland invasion in a way that we have not. Still, as I read through the article, I got a sense of the astonishment, shock and finally horror that these people experienced as they realized that this was no ordinary attack.

Most of us who are readership age can vividly recall the feeling of national dread after the attacks in New York and Washington, DC on “9/11”. Many lives were lost and many were forever changed on that autumn day in 2001. Some contend that America has lost a certain sense of innocence as a result of that day. One account puts the death toll at 2,996 and the rest of America experienced, too, a sense of astonishment, shock and then horror. Although we had experienced incidences of terrorism prior to 9/11, we realized that this was no ordinary attack.

In the 14 years since that attack, we have seen beheadings, bombings, theatre killing rampages, kidnappings and deadly riots. We have grieved over rogue police shooting innocent victims and wrongful shooting of police officers by murderers using a “cause” to justify acts of violence. And, violent crime would seem to be rampant in our country, based on what we see in the mainstream media. Certainly, given the frenzy of photos, videos and written reports, violence must be taking over the country and the world. Many of us are convinced that we are under an extraordinary attack.

In truth, violent crime has been on the downswing since 1990. Looking at the year 2001 forward, the violent crime rate reported by the Federal Bureau of Investigations states that, from a number of 504.5 violent acts per 100,000 people reported in 2001, the rate has dropped steadily over the past 14 years to 365.5 per 100,000 in 2014. While 2015 saw a slight increase in urban or “big city” crime, statistic after statistic points to a reduction of violent crime overall.

Just after 9/11, I have memories of visiting Harrah’s and just after I would pull in to the parking deck, a security team would stop and inspect my vehicle with mirrors on sticks to ensure I had no weapons of mass destruction. In our courthouse (and in most courthouses), metal scanners and body searches are commonplace now, just as they are in airports. The Tribal Council House is currently getting a makeover and probably adding security features to protect our leadership and those who visit the chambers of our government.

I have a local friend, or two, who are preparing for an upcoming cataclysmic event. They are stocking up on food, heating supplies, water, guns and ammunition. They have personal family disaster plans that include underground bunkers. They even are safeguarding their electronic devices-from radios to vehicles-from the effects of a potential EMP (Electronic Magnetic Pulse-one element of fallout from a nuclear blast) attack that would, in theory, black out much of the nation’s power supply and incapacitate most electronic appliances. A nickname has been given to folks who subscribe to the mindset of gathering up for an impending apocalypse, called “preppers”. It is a large movement with followers around the globe.

And, most recently, we have heard claims that North Korea has executed a test detonation of a miniature hydrogen bomb or an atomic “hydrogen-boosted” bomb. With smaller countries coming up with the technology to pull off nuclear detonation and the potential of terrorist cells gaining access to nuclear material and technology, shouldn’t we be fearful of nuclear attack in America?

Pundits are unclear on just how likely a nuclear strike from either a third world country or terrorist organization might be. Some believe that access to fissionable materials may have been exposed during the early years at the end of the USSR and that has been passed around in black market fashion for three or more decades. But, there is quite a bit of technological knowhow that must be applied in using radioactive material to create weapons and making mistakes in creation of a nuclear bomb would end any planned attack quickly. Many authorities on the subject think that the technical ability and workable facilities are beyond most terror organizations capability or interest.

Our safety and the safety of future generations should be concerns that we all share. We definitely should not take our protection for granted. From a national standpoint all the way to our Cherokee Tribal EMS, Fire and Police, our political leadership is keeping watch and implementing plans to enhance our safety. We, too, may find ways to defend ourselves and add levels of security to our homes and families.

But, we should not let these potential threats dominate our lives and cause us to be fearful. Fear and worry are a product of the mind. Long before those fateful events of World War II, for America beginning with the bombing of Pearl Harbor and ending with the nuclear bombing of Japan, President Franklin D. Roosevelt uttered the famous line, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself”.

Many years later, Stephen King, a prolific author who made his living by scaring his readers, is attributed with explaining fear in more detail. “The three types of terror: The Gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs, it’s when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against your arm. The Horror: the unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up and walking around, it’s when the lights go out and something with claws grabs you by the arm. And, the last and worse one: Terror, when you come home and notice everything you own had been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It’s when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there’s nothing there…”

Don’t let the news of the day be the deciding factor as to whether you enjoy life or fear it. In the words of that great philosopher, Joe Rogan (host of Fear Factor), I hope that fear is not a factor for you.