October 27th, 2014 -- Afraid
It’s easy when you’re walking around looking for specific behaviors to spot them. Thus, you become jaded.
When you simply notice things that are changing it is more real, and sometimes the two collide at exactly the right moment such as the epiphany I’ve experienced in the last many weeks.
For months if not years I have trying to figure out how to properly describe the clear disintegration of our culture and society. I have argued mainly that it is a combination of apathy and ignorance, submitting that people who don’t care and don’t care to know produce an arrogant society that is destined to fall. I do not back away from any of that, however, I think I have stumbled on a better root cause for all of this; fear. We, as Americans, are simply afraid. Afraid of everything.
This could not be more apparent than our recent hysterical response to the non-epidemic known as Ebola. The overreactions, asinine proclamations and virtual lightings of hair on fire have been nothing short of unbelievable. And yet they should not surprise us at us. We are a scared, cowardly group of people on almost every level.
We are scared to speak our minds, lest we be shouted down. We are wrongly afraid that a bogeyman is hiding behind every corner ready to take our children. We are petrified of offending anyone, so we say nothing. Silence, of course, creates chaos. We refuse to judge people, lest we are judged in return. We suffer from the highest level of the bystander effect in modern times; no one does anything to help those in need, assuming someone else will take care of it. We walk past strangers dying in the streets, We ignore women being raped in airports, not wanting to get involved. We pass “yes means yes,” laws making it technically illegal to have sex unless both parties consent overtly to the act, the true definition of romance. We ban certain breeds of dogs. We remove Breaking Bad toys from shelves because they’ll make our kids do drugs. We arrest parents who allow their children to play in parks alone because the parents are neglecting them by teaching them to not be afraid of the world. We arrest and suspend children who play with invisible grenades and toy Zombie hunter guns. We malign parents who teach their children to respect and not fear guns and even have the audacity to take them hunting because children, nay everyone, should be afraid of guns, and everything else for that matter.
We are afraid of everything. What a stark turnaround and contrast for the once greatest nation on Earth that saved the world from tyranny and oppression against all odds just 70 years ago. The United States of America had no business defeating the German/Japanese alliance in the 1904’s, anymore than George Washington and his rag-tag band of revolutionaries had a chance against the greatest military force on the face of the Earth at the time. And yet America found a way to become and then found a way to save the world. Whether you ascribe such results to providence, courage or simply “the American Way,” it is a sad day when you come to realize that whatever it is has left us. Either God has decided we’re a lost cause, or we have. Either way, all is nearly lost.
Take a drive and watch how afraid everyone is of everything. People have no clue how to enter a freeway at freeway speed, as mandated by law and the rules of safety, and it’s not because they’re texting, it’s because they’re terrified. Aggressive, confident, offensive driving is deemed “dangerous,” even though it is the exact opposite. Anything confident in today’s America is something akin to being “mean,” or “unfair.” We are so very afraid.
Ebola is simply today’s proxy for what a bunch of pussies we are.
Weeks ago my girlfriend and I were at Bodega Bay on California’s Northern Coast. We went to the beach on Saturday and strolled amongst the waves for a few hours and I made a stark observation; we were the only ones near the ocean. It was high tide with 6 foot waves powerfully crashing ashore, something a California boy like me lives for. Having spent a few years in my younger days as lifeguard, certified for a brief time in Huntington Beach for ocean rescue, I’m both comfortable and confident along the sea. My girlfriend, Ashley, meanwhile, is simply a fun, free soul who doesn’t spend her days being scared of everything. So we walked along the edge of the beach, allowing the waves to encircle us as high as our calves at times. Of the 100 or so people there, not one was near us. Ashley and I stopped and chatted as the waves became larger, at time getting as high as our things and I posited to her my theory that this was nothing more than our society at its emblematic best; the ocean is scary. Pretty, but scary. One or two people a year are swept out into the ocean, never to be seen or heard from again as a result of undercurrents or rogue waves, thus we must all fear the water at all times.
After a while, Ashley and I joined her Aunt and Uncle on the beach and just laid in the sun for a while, noticing not one person going near the water. We saw a few parents grab their children as they headed anywhere near within 20 feet of the wave and current line…God Forbid the child be raised to not fear the ocean.
Eventually, we became restless and walked back towards the ocean as some busy-body on the beach had the nerve to yell out “watch out for the waves,” in typical mom-like fashion, thus further proving my hypothesis of fear. We got within 10 feet of the waves sliding onto the beach and Ashley decided she wanted to play wave tag. Or wave run. Or a variety of other names the stupid childhood game goes by which is very simply…as the tide recedes, you run towards the ocean all the way to the water line. As the next big wave comes ashore, you wait for the water to start coming at you, and then you run as fast as you can, hoping to outrun the water as it makes its’ way onto the beach. I don’t know a kid who didn’t do this a billon times, yes a billion times, growing up anywhere near an ocean. After a few rounds, with of course no one joining us, we returned to our towel at which time we were informed by Ashley’s Aunt that a park ranger had used his truck’s loud speaker while parked on the bluff to yell out “Please stay away from the ocean…waves may be dangerous.”
And there you have it. A nation of scaredy cats is all we are. Everyone is afraid of everything, even the most innocent and harmless of things. A grown woman in stellar physical condition with her formerly ocean certified lifeguard boyfriend is not given the benefit of the doubt, but rather is chastised in front of everyone, thus making all afraid of everything. As we see more and more authority figures crumble before our eyes and become the leaders of the “be afraid” movement, those who try to claim that we are not falling apart at the seems lose more and more credibility.
For the record, we immediately went back to the edge and played more wave tag. And once again, no one joined us.