One year ago tomorrow I wrote a post called Summer of Fear.
They're coming for us and they are coming by land, by sea, by air. They have packed guns and bombs and airborne diseases and it's only a matter of time before they release the dogs of hell upon us. If you believe everything you hear or see, that is. Do you? Even if you believe only half of it, or a quarter of it, it doesn't matter. The unease has already settled into the air like a virus. It's contagious.
Every low flying plane or helicopter is regarded with suspicion. A clap of thunder can make you jump. A siren. A special news bulletin.
Fourth of July is coming. Independence Day. Perhaps they will shroud their dirty bombs in the explosions of hundreds of fireworks exploding over New York. The scrolling news underneath the talking heads on CNN assures us that the Fourth of July would be a perfect time for them to strike. Symbolism.
Here, one year later, the fear has subsided. Even though I wake up to the news that sources say there could be a possible terror strike in Texas on the Fourth of July, I shrug.
I stopped living in fear. I stopped taking every raised terror level, every new threat as an imminent threat on my life. We have been lulled into a sense of complacency by the constant wave of alerts, chatter, threats and real bombings that we are going to be in for a shock if and when something really does happen.
I don't even know who wants to kick our ass anymore. Is it the EU? Do they want their turn to play bully and beat us into submission?
Is it al Qaida? Islamists? Muslims? The French? The Rebel Alliance?
At this point, if someone pointed into the sky and said "That's no moon, that's a space station," I would probably yawn and walk away.
It's hard to be ever-vigilant when you don't even know what you're being vigilant about. If we listened to every single piece of chatter that comes over the shortwave radio down in Cheney's bunker, we'd be a nation of Bernie Geotzes, gunning down anyone who dared to look in our direction.
I'm not naive. I don't have this Pollyana vision of the world coming together in peace. I know we have enemies. I know our enemies have enemies and those enemies have allies. I know that the threat of a terrorist attack is always imminent.
There are places where the fear is greater, where the reality of death grabs you by the hair every day. Iran. Israel. North Korea. The Congo. Is the world falling apart? No, not really. It's just in an upheaval. Progress takes it toll in many forms.
As long as we have enemies - and there are many enemies of freedom and democracy - there will be threats. I've learned to live with that. I've learned to accept that as a price for my freedom. I'm thankful I don't live in a country where I have to literally cower in fear, as opposed to figuratively cowering in fear, which is what we do.
Perhaps the greatest threat to our sanity is ourselves. If we keep sending out the message that our power lines, our water supply, our roadways are under threat; this state is under watch and that state is in direct danger and watch out for strange ships that pass in the night and make sure you neighbor isn't doing anything weird; perhaps if we just settled down and tried to live a little while the people who were hired to watch over us do their jobs, we could settle down and enjoy this Fourth of July and the rest of the summer without panicking every time CNN flashes a headline.
I'm a different person than a year ago, when I wrote:
I'm waiting for the comic book ending. For the superheroes to band together and form an alliance and kick the shit out their enemies. Or at least foil their evil plans and put us all back into our safe, comfortable place, where panic doesn't spark the air, where our lives don't exist in a constant state of elecricity, like we just collectively stepped on a third rail.
There is no comic book ending. There are no superheroes. I know that now. There will never be a safe, comfortable place again, or at least not for a long time. The panic and electricity are gone. I'm complacent about my own fate. I worry more now about the fate of others - the Iranian protesters, the children of Iraq.
It's interesting what a difference a year can make in one's view on things. A year ago, I was a left leaner with cynical attitude towards the government. It took only that one summer, that slowly growing idea that I was in the wrong place and the approaching anniversary of 9/11, to lead me towards where I am now.
I have faith in our leaders. You have a different sense of the world when you trust those who are in charge of your safety and you stop viewing them as the enemy. My own fear last year was borne of believing the propaganda set out before me by my ideologica peers. Once you let the hype of the lies and propganda go, once you realize you were suckered in to a web of deceit, it's easier to let go of all that. And when you do, you let go of the fear.