and spies everywhere
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...and spies everywhere
I was thinking of how I spent my childhood afraid of the Russians. The Russian government was a constant shadow in the corner, always lurking, always promising darkness and misery.
The thing is, I never really knew that much about the Russians. I just knew what the adults let us in on; Russia was powerful. Russia was evil. Russia was our enemy. Russia wanted to destroy us.
I didn't know why, I only knew how. They would aim their nuclear weapons at us and someone would hit a red button and we would all be dead within seconds. That's the way my mind recorded it, anyhow.
I heard scattered rumors here and there. Russians who spoke out against their government were sent to Siberia, where they would live in a tiny little one room hut in the middle of a snow slicked wasteland. They would freeze to death in a matter of days or weeks, a slow torturous death for saying the wrong thing. I had nightmares about Russia. She had become the monster in my closet, the thing under my bed, my own personal bogeyman.
Cut to 30 or so years later. My kids are afraid of Iraq. They are afraid of Saddam Hussein. And they have reason to be. The difference between my rumor-fueled nightmares and the real fears of my children is knowledge. People today do not treat children as if they should be kept from everything going on in the world.
I had a discussion with DJ today and he said things like "aerial attacks," and "axis of evil" and "weapons of mass destruction." He is nine. he knows these things because he reads the paper and watches the news and they discuss it in school.
Their fears are real. More importantly, their fears are greater than any nightmare I had about the Russians. I didn't really know what could happen then. I made it all up in my head, the whole scenario from pushing a simple little button to the mushroom cloud to the walking undead taking over the country.
Our kids don't have to make up scenarios. They know. They know about terror, they know about people leaping from the World Trade Center, they know about terror alterts and colored warnings and airplanes that crash into buildings.
Until the hostage situation in Iran, I never really witnessed real terror. I was in high school by then, all too aware of the ways of the world.
My kids live with a sort of fear I never realized. They may not be crouching down in the hallways like I used to during air raid drills, but to my daughter, the fact that they don't do that is scary in and of itself. "If they don't even bother having drills," she said, "that means that once someone attacks us with nuclear weapons, we are dead meat."
They worry about their future. They are afraid. They are afraid of a very real, very ominous threat. I was just afraid of the Russians; a general all-encompassing fright that was more a fear of communism than anything else. Natalie and DJ and a million other kids are afraid of one single man. One man who is harboring the means to make their fears realized. We have the means and enough reasons to blot this bogeyman out of existence.