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The faith of fear

Published on: October 18, 2012

Thunder has never reached into the house to grab my dog Andi, but that doesn’t stop her from being terrified whenever afternoon thunderstorms roll through. Recently Michelle bought her a Thundershirt. It seems to help keep her calm. Now I think I need one

Thunder has never reached into the house to grab my dog Andi, but that doesn’t stop her from being terrified whenever afternoon thunderstorms roll through. Recently Michelle bought her a Thundershirt. It seems to help keep her calm. Now I think I need one

I think I need a Thundershirt. What is a Thundershirt, you may ask? I’m not entirely sure, but my dog Andi wears one whenever there’s thunder about. It is supposed to help keep her calm, at least that’s what the packaging claimed after Michelle bought it, displaying it triumphantly as a solution to our crazy-wildly-neurotic-terrified-dog-in-thunderstorms problem.

The funny thing is, though, that it does seem to help Andi. But the question that I have is why thunder bothers her in the first place. Thunder has never reached into the house to grab her. In her entire life, she’s never even been left out in the rain. I can only assume in the thunder she hears some freakishly large beast with designs on having her for a snack (which would also explain why she wants to stick so close to us when it thunders — we’re bigger so whatever is out there would eat us first, get full, and then leave before getting to Andi).

I’m not afraid of death but I have a mortal fear of slowly dying while still living. I was blessed to do so much in my life that now I’m afraid it is possible my best days are in my wake, fading off behind me, leaving me moving forward to search only for redemption, perhaps forgiveness, or to search for something that is no longer possible. I know all too well that the phrase “It’s never too late” is wrong. Sometimes it is too late. Apparently some people feel the same way about America.

We are endlessly being told of so many things to fear — terrorists, an economic meltdown, this guy or the other becoming the President of the United States. It even extends to the food we eat.

I sat down for breakfast in front of a bowl of Great Grains, one of my favorite breakfast cereals. Not only do I like it, I’ve always thought it was one of the few things that was actually good for me. As is my custom, I had breakfast in front of the computer, reading news websites. I pulled up a story about a scientist trying to get the word out that people should not be eating grains anymore. The grains we have today are not like those that our grandparents had — something about genetic modifications and stuff that could kill us and melt our brains. Well, that’s nice.

Then I read a story about how Iran is four months away from developing a nuclear weapon. I am certain I read the exact same story four months ago. And four years ago. If they have been four months away for years now, that sounds like good news. I’ll be long dead by the time they actually get through those four months. Time must move differently over there.

And then, of course, there is cancer. When I was a kid, I remember hearing about the occasional person getting cancer and it was always a big deal, in a death sentence sort of way. Now it is more than just the occasional person; it seems a lot of people get cancer today. Fortunately, it appears that it is not necessarily a death sentence anymore, but it certainly is far more common.

What kind of life is it to be afraid much of the time? Afraid of being blown up by an extremist in a shopping mall or on an airplane; afraid of what genetically modified grains are doing to our bodies; afraid that with every anomaly or weird pain in our arms or abdomen, cancer is behind it. Life is short enough the way it is, being afraid seems to be a waste of time.

Andi has none of those concerns. She knows nothing of terrorism or cancer, yet when thunder booms she is terrified. Fortunately, the Thundershirt seems to help. And now I want one for the thunder that is booming in my life.

Apparently, fear sells. Why else would we be bombarded by it? I have enough things to fear as it is without a politician adding to the list. I’m not afraid of dying in a plane crash or in an exploding shopping mall; I’m afraid of my knees hurting to the point that I stop wandering off on adventures. I’m afraid that my energy and motivation levels will drop off so that it will suddenly seem like too much work to go in search of something new. I don’t need someone else peddling fear and I refuse to trade liberty for a false facade of security. I need to hear some positive affirmation.

Fear sells? What have we become? I don’t want to hear that the “other guy” is going to drive us into the ground, I want to hear about “Morning in America” again. I want to hear about what we have going for us, not what is working against us. What happened to faith? Faith in ourselves and in our nation? What kind of people have we become if it turns out that fear motivates us more than faith?

And no, I don’t want to hear someone blowing smoke with puppies and rainbows, but if no one can think of something legitimate and actionable about our future that we can have faith in, then I seriously do fear for our future. Faith trumping fear is what created this nation; it is what made us the world’s superpower. The fear of crossing an ocean to a new land or heading out into space for a new frontier has always been overcome by our faith that we could actually do it, often despite tremendous odds against us.

I’m tired of fear and I’m doubly tired of those who peddle fear. The pet store doesn’t have a Thundershirt in my size, so show me some legitimate faith that we can overcome, despite the odds, and you will earn my support and my vote. If you choose fear and whining, save it for those wearing the tinfoil hats. Contrary to what you may spew, I still believe in America.

I guess I don’t need a Thundershirt after all. Nothing making loud noises is going to reach in and grab me. I would hope partisans and politicians would take note: In fear is weakness; in faith is strength. Stop whining, stop blaming, and start showing the way to a better place. And now, I’m going to try to take my own advice.