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war anxiety

(like talking about the war, but not)

I was busy writing something. It came out the depths and onto my WordPerfect screen and after ten minutes of my fingers blurring over the keyboards, I had to stop. Pause. Breathe.

I went to see what Steven DenBeste was up to today and coincidentally he was up to the same thing as me. Talking about fear.
Last night I wrote about being tired. I do believe that my fatigue is borne out of terror. If you say are not afraid of the near future, you are lying to yourself.

Like Steven, I worry. Sure, Iím a worrier by nature. I fret about things I have no control over and things I shouldnít care about. Mountains out of molehills, as my father says.

But these things are real. The threat is real. I worry about odorless gas sneaking its way into my office building. I worry about militants storming the schools and taking our children hostage. I lie awake and night and imagine all kinds of horrors - poisoning, fires, plagues of disease-infected bugs placed in our path.

I dream about retaliation. I dream about nuclear warheads and rogue countries. I wake up short of breath, sometimes crying, sometimes reluctant to go back to sleep.

I think a lot about the end result of not going to war. Neither option is pretty. Neither option is without its detractions. And the longer the wait goes on, the deeper the roots of my fears grow, the more entangled and twisted they become as they clamp down on my brain and take hold. One fear becomes many. Soon I canít tell any of them apart.

The gas, the fires, the explosions, the torture, the starvation, the children crying, the soldiers dying, the smile on Saddamís face, the collective smirk of France; they all become one and the same. Just a dark, hovering presence that tails me hour after hour, day after day, even crawling into bed with me at night.

And much like Steven and so many others, I just want the inevitable to come and go. I want the war to start so the war can finish and the thick roots of darkness can start dissipating.

The Acerbia War DeStresser(tm) sit back and enjoy the hypnotic bouncing


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference war anxiety:

» Fear and trembling from ***Dave Does the Blog
I don't if it's because I'm sick, or tired, or sick and tired. The whole Iraq thing has been depressing... [Read More]

» The Remedy from DaGoddess
Michele talks about worrying and Stephen Den Beste talks about fear. I've thought of this myself. However, I refuse to... [Read More]

» The Remedy from DaGoddess
Michele talks about worrying and Stephen Den Beste talks about fear. I've thought of this myself. However, I refuse to... [Read More]


I am still trying to sort out my exact position on the war. Being from the midwest, I am lulled into a sense of "that would never happen here". Because of that, my fear is more for the troops that we will lose and their families and for innocent civilians. Anyway, when you explain the root of your beliefs, it makes much more sense to me.

i'm so numb. i think i'd be scared if i had kids, but i'm just... numb.

I got a rude awakening this morning. I was meeting with my daughter's teacher, to go over her goals for the next year, and found out that Kelsey often bursts into tears in the classroom, most recently when one of the students brought in an article about the impending war.

When the teacher got her to settle down, the reason she said she was crying was that her grandma (my wonderful mother) had told her that if there was a war, we would possibly all die. My daughter is 9. She comprehends things at an almost adult level. She is TERRIFIED of us going to war, because she thinks if we do, everyone she loves will die.

Now, there's being informed, and then there's being stupid. Yeah, we all have fears with the war. Yeah, maybe we should think about "what if's", and what we would do if something happened. But there is NO reason to allow fear over what might happen to creep into the mind of a 9 year old child and terrorize her that way.

Yeah, I know not everyone is sharing their fears with their children. I know a lot of children probably wouldn't even worry, because what's going on in Iraq doesn't directly affect them. But be aware of how the "fears" you might have affect the kids in your life.

Sorry, I'm STILL pissed that my mother has her so freaked out.

i don't have kids, Tracy, but I wonder if ignorance is really all that blissful.. perhaps not to the degree that your mother went, but i think kids should know what's going on.. kids are gonna see how their parents are fretting about the news no matter how hard we try to keep it from them.. sorry it's affecting kelsey so much..

and michele, i feel you in a big way on war and it's impending doom.. i just want it to be over so we can know what's going to happen..

I got two kids. Little kids. I often wonder what we (my wife and I) were thinking bringing kids into this world. But every generation has its own set of fears, you know. That doesn't mean that we don't have serious problems to be concerned with...but if it wasn't this there would always be something to replace this fear and so on. Reading the Bible helps me a lot.

By the way, Michele, as far as you getting tired of the wait and all the anxiety it is causing you I think I stumbled across something to help you understand it better--

Why the delay? I have my own conspiracy theories on this.


There is a greater chance of any of us getting killed driving to or from work that by some terrorist attack. Maybe some other crazy nutter will randomly shoot people at the post office or Dairy Queen.

People who want to worry can always come up with something to worry about. But life is too short to waste it worrying about things that may or may not happen.

Look at it this way - if something bad does happen, you wasted the time to get out and enjoy what time you did have worrying about things. If nothing bad happens, you wasted the time to get out and enjoy....

You get the picture? Live your life. Enjoy being with your partner and children. Take pleasure in things that happen every day. The government is doing its best to take away my freedoms and liberties, but I will be damned if I will let terrorists take away my enjoyment in living by worrying about things that may or may not happen.

I'm new here, but found my way via USS Clueless.

I agree with Ken. There's nothing I can do directly to fix the problem (though I do believe war is the best of our several terrible options), and I live less than 100 miles from several primary targets. Worrying will avail me nothing, so I get on with life.

Fear like that people are discussing here was the goal of September Eleventh. Don't hand Them a victory.

I used to worry a little bit about this craziness that we live in. I used to watch those movies like "Threads" and "The Day After" and it would wrench my guts with fear and horror and disgust at what mankind is capable of doing to his own sisters and brothers in the name of god and country. Then a little light came on in my head and I realized that I can worry every single minute of every single day about these factors of terror that are completely out of my hands and my control and my life will have much less quality, much less substance while I'm here. I don't know how long I'll be here, but while I AM here I choose to be happy.. I just say "Fuck all the bullshit". If you wanna blow my ass away, come the fuck on and do it...until then, I'm having a damn good time. Don't let all these assholes take your quality of life away with worry over things that you can do fuck-all about and you know it. Concentrate on the things you CAN do something about..like making the most of your life with the ones you love..you have that right now and what's happening RIGHT NOW is what matters. If you must think about what will happen in the future..Think about how you're going to spoil your grandkids one day by giving them Hershey bars and pissing their parents off. I know we've all heard the saying that goes something like..living life well is the best revenge. Get revenge on all the things that terrorize you . Live your life well.

We live in an absolutely huge country. You're much more likely to die of cancer or in an auto accident than to die in a terrorist act on this country. I have no more fear about this war than I did about the last Gulf War. It sounds to me as if you people are starting to believe the liberal "quagmire" arguments. Iraq will be even less of a quagmire than Afghanistan was. The only power these terrorists have is to try to make us all afraid. Don't give them the satisfaction.

I refused to watch those two movies when they came out, and I won't watch reruns of them either. It wasn't denial; I didn't have a word for it then, I just knew that there was something not right about this movie genre. I know what to call it now: disaster porn.

It's one thing to be fully cognizant of the dangers of waging war, and nuclear war at that; it's another thing to give in to the apocalyptic hopelessness of the end-game junkies. So yes, tell your kids the truth as far as possible about what's going on. Children respond very well to logic and reason. But what children do not react at all well to is irrationality, especially when it comes from an authority figure. And "Aaagghhh! We're all gonna die!" is an irrational response. Grandma's the one who needs to grow up.

I think it was Edgar Allen Poe that said fear was the anticipation of the unkown. There are lots of things we don't know. We don't know all of what Saddam Hussein has ready to use against our troops, but his soldiers are already trying to surrender. Maybe we don't know where every member of Al-Qaeda is around the globe, but we have Al-Qaeda's CEO in our custody now... and all the info we found on his computer. It looks like we have Bin Laden's eldest son too. Their terrorist network is slowly unravelling. And we are fortunate enough to have a President with enough resolve to get the job done... this time.

There is a greater chance of any of us getting killed driving to or from work that by some terrorist attack

That may be true for the average resident of Topeka, Kansas. For people who live in major cities (I live in San Diego), it's more of a question mark. The thing is, car accidents are, well, accidental. Terrorist attacks aren't. The WTC towers weren't hit by random chance; they were targetted. The people working in that building had, prior to 9/11, a dramatically higher chance of dying in a terrorist attack than of dying in a car accident. They just didn't know it.

I think the odds of a resident of New York City dying in a nuclear explosion during the next ten years are dramatically higher than the odds of them dying in a car crash during the same period. Between North Korea, Pakistan, and Russia, the possibility of terrorists managing to purchase or steal a nuclear weapon is all too great.

This is one of the reasons why I back Bush's aggressive approach to the war. I think our only real hope of avoiding even greater tragedy is to roll the dice and hope we get lucky.

Damn, take a vacation, Michele. Cabana boy is waiting.

"...But life is too short to waste it worrying about things that may or may not happen."

I'm with Dan on this. While I envy the luxury most people in the country have of "choosing" not to worry, all I have to do is get up from my chair, walk down the hall a bit and stare into the pit of Ground Zero from an office window to be reminded of what I've got to worry about.

If a small nuke goes off here and kills half a million people, the nationwide odds are still 500 to one against being a pile of ash. But the only way those odds are comforting is if you weren't near the death, don't know anyone who was near the death, didn't lose anyone, don't know anyone who lost someone. Your comfort level is entirely dependent upon your degree of removal from the reality of the situation.

To be perfectly frank, I find the "If I'm afraid than the terrorists have won" bravado somewhat naÔve. If the terrorists have turned all of our major cities into biological hot zones, irradiated our entire governmental infrastructure, and converted 90% of the American citizenry into Shari'a-observing Muslims, then maybe they've won.

Fear, for those of us in a position to know it, is not their victory: it's our reality. It doesn't mean I'm cowering in my closet wrapped in Saran Wrap and duct tape.

But it does mean that, every day I'm here, I have a baseline level of anxiety that I just didn't have before I fled downtown Manhattan eighteen months ago today.

If I didn't admit that, and face it, I'd be lying to myself.

It helped a little bit to write a letter to myself circa July 2001. When you realize everything we've gone through and how tought we are for living through it all (terrorism, war, snipers in my particular case), you realize how resilient humanity is.

If I dare say so, we all have a lot to be proud of over the last year and a half.

Try it.

Another point that Steven Den Beste has made on multiple occasions is that the risk of terrorist attacks on America is not that closely tied to the impending action in Iraq.

If the terrorists have the capability, they're going to use it under some pretext, or no pretext, at whatever time they choose. What, for instance, did we specifically do to precipitate the WTC attacks?

As Steven has written, it's not what we do, but what we are that drives them. Sorry, we can't surrender to that notion.

Our best chance of reducing the probability of an attack is to aggressively target the sources, their agents and financial supporters. Although this cannot be guaranteed to work, it seems to be best choice. The al Quaeda response to our decimation of the Taliban, the scattering of their forces and elimination/capture of key leaders has basically been a series of audio tapes ... why would we believe that action against Saddam will suddenly inspire them to greater acts of terror?

It just sounds like you are a bit depressed too.

There is no one who is not feeling this anxiety.
We are at the pivot point of a huge change in history.
One important way of dealing with this is to imagine peace and freedom in Iraq after. See the women at the cafes, the children playing, the men arguing about politics and sports and all engaged and connected with the rest of the world. Breathe in the anxiety, breath out the bounty of the peace we are freeing them to enjoy.

I think I need to make one point a bit clearer: I am worried for everyone on this entire planet. Not just myself, my kids, my family. Everyone.

As Ian stated, a lot of my anxiety comes from what I experienced 18 months ago. My fear has is not based on monster in my closet - it is tangible.

This war is the right thing to do .

Like taking out the trrash, crawling into a wall to fix plumbing or taking down a bee's next it will have unpleasant smells and effects.

Like a police unit closing down drug dealers in the neighborhood it will have costs and side effects that can be dangerous.

Like a fireman who suffers from inhaling smoke fighting a fire it will cause suffering and pain.

None of this changes the fact that is should and must be done. and that doing nothing is worse. Worrying is not going to change a thing.

We know what we have to do, lets do it.

We can't guarantee all will be well that's life.

Lets live it.

I donít like thinking about things that I canít control, so I donít. Itís a good idea to be prepared Ė to have a three day supply of water, lots of canned food (and a can opener) a radio and batteries. Maybe even duct tape or plastic sheeting, but I still donít know what thatís for.

I read about the war, but, since I have no way of knowing what effect it will have, I donít think about it much. This state of denial is a pleasant place, quiet and peaceful. I like it.

Denial works for some people, but it doesnít work for everyone. Some people feel better when they face their fears, some like to talk about them. If posts about war anxiety help, then post them as often as you can. I think that worriers just have a better imagination than most people. Some of the possibilities in this post and Stevenís post had never occurred to me..

I can relate to Ian's post above. I work in New York city also. Across the street from me is the Citigroup building, a gigantic skyscraper that is known for its innovative design of being built on stilts. Several months ago, they were quietly but quickly reinforcing the steel beams in all of those stilts in case a truck bomb drove down 53rd street and exploded. If the stilts gave way, that gigantic skyscraper would immediately crash into mine, killing thousands.

I work for a large NYC law firm, doing corporate work. We are rational people, dealing with large companies and deals that have high stakes. We do not worry needlessly. Yet everyone here is anxious and occasionally nervous. Last month at our annual "state of the firm" address, our managing partner said the outlook for 2003 was positive, but when we all retired for dinner the conversation revolved around the year being positive, "if we all survive." The irony was not lost on anyone.

Daily news reports indicate North Korea and now Iran are closer and closer to developing nuclear weapons, if they don't already have them. Let me tell you, it is NOT easy to work in a big city like New York and read the headlines. It is NOT easy to casually dismiss such bad news by saying the chances are small or that even if it happens that living without thinking about it will make life better than if you had to think about it. We all have our hopes and dreams for the future. I'd like to get married and have kids. I'd like to succeed in my career that I've worked so hard for. I do not want to throw away the next 30 years of my life by saying, "Well, if I die, at least I didn't spend time considering that I could be killed by terrorists." That is ridiculous, because ignorance is not bliss.

Courage and bravery does not mean ignoring fear. It means recognizing your fears and persisting despite them. I go to work daily, next to the Citigroup building. I live blocks away from Times Square and I walk through it every day on my way to work. They could all be gone tomorrow, if Al-Qaeda and Iran decide that 9-11 wasn't a big enough message to send to New York or America.

And I still worry, because the rational part of my mind says that for us to survive, there must be a 100% success rate against stopping all potential nuclear attacks on my city. A 100% success rate simply is impossible to maintain. I'm of the opinion that the best defense is a good offense, and we should take the fight to them.

No one worries about getting hit by a drunk driver or whatever, because there is no logical progression that shows that such an act might really happen. Such is the case with the War.

So for those who live in the middle states of America, please have a little sympathy. Try living here for seveal months as you walk past Times Square every day to work thinking, "will this be the last time I see those bright lights, before I am killed myself?"

A few days ago, one of my youngest brother's classmates told me, "The chances of being killed by anthrax are less than a billion to one."

I told him, "The chances of Thomas L. Morris Jr. being killed by anthrax were also less than a billion to one. Why don't you call up his surviving relatives and tell them what the odds were of him dying? I'm sure they'd appreciate hearing that."

It's always amusing to watch a know-it-all teenager suddenly devolve into kindergarten insults the moment anyone makes him look like an idiot. Even my brother told him, "Man, don't make Tatter more right than he already is."

If ignorance is bliss why am I not a happier person?