"The Age of A-scared"
Seven years ago, America’s last veteran of WWI passed away at the age of 110. Name was Frank Buckles of West Virginia. His record for being the Last Living WWI veteran will never be bested… which is generally the case when you’re the “last” of something.
Everything that ever was or ever will be has a last. Someone will end up winning the last Academy Award for Best Actress. Hopefully, she has yet to be born. The last person to pay for gasoline with cash is probably out there right now.
There is someone in our midst right now who will be the last person to ever live in a neighborhood where no one ever locked their doors. Right now there are a few million Americans who claim that distinction, but most of them are making up stuff.
Of course, I’m not lying when I tell you that during most of my childhood in Pasadena, Texas, we seldom locked our doors. Dennis locked the door on me one night when David Stone and I were camping out at his house. Dennis knew I’d get a-scared and come running home before morning, so he locked the door. (By the way, when I was a young, I was never afraid. “Afraid” was not strong enough. I was always “a-scared.” We all were.)
Zoom forward a few decades and we find ourselves no longer a-scared. Fearful is what we are. Fear has pretty much captured this country. Have you noticed? If you want to get elected to any political office you’d best preach FEAR.
Americans didn’t used to be quite as afraid of foreigners as we are now. Of course, some white people have always feared people of color; people of color fear the cops; everyone fears airports and the flu. A North Korean named Kim Jung-Whatever is a person of major concern, as is anyone who walks into a bank or Valero with a hoodie pulled down over a ball cap and sunshades. The only people we’ve been told not to fear are the Russians.
Yep, fear is big. And, it’s expensive. The proposed National Budget calls for an $160 billion increase in military spending for a country that spends about $16 billion more on its military than the next eight countries combined. The budget calls for $40 billion for the continued construction of a wall that will cost upwards of $1.5 trillion dollars to complete. If Mexico weren’t paying for it, we’d be in a real mess.
Fear apparently has no bounds, nor does its price. When Kay and I moved into our new house, we were besieged by door to door salespersons. Pest control people raised fear over termites and roaches. Salesmen preached fear of water. They offered to test our tap water for free. They apparently wanted to scare us with findings of biological contaminants and mineral deposits.
The only salesperson I spent time with was the guy selling security systems. Over the course of our marriage, Kay and I have been burgled three times. When we first moved to Conroe, we were driving a Ford Falcon that belonged to Kay’s Dad. He had just put new speakers in the thing and asked me to be sure to keep the car doors locked. I was so unused to locking car doors that I forgot. The first night we were in the apartment someone stole Uncle Ray's radio and speakers.
When we were living in our first house in Conroe, somebody broke a window and stole our Video Tape Player. They also got Uncle Ray's IBM computer that he loaned me. While Uncle Ray hated to lose the speakers out of his car, he didn’t mind the computer so much. That was the most complicated technical device known to man. If NASA scientists had used it instead of their slide rules during the Apollo 11 mission, we would’ve never made it to the moon.
A month to the day later, the burglar(s) shattered the same window and took our new Video Tape Player. They unplugged our old stereo system, but decided against taking it. I felt more insulted than angry about that. The police went to the trouble of getting a palm print, but said they doubted they’d ever catch the thief. They guessed right.
I don’t know what kind of security systems they had in the early ‘80s, but it didn’t matter because I wouldn’t have bought one. The thing would’ve been as complicated as the IBM we lost. But, over the past 35 years, they’ve no doubt improved.
And, they may be cheaper than they used to be, but they’re still expensive. The cheapest security package the salesman offered us included devices on every window and door, and alarms in every room. Once activated, the alarms had to be shut off individually. I'd have to keep a stepladder handy. For a lot of extra money, you can have cameras set up anywhere inside or outside the house. I asked the salesman if they were the same cameras used to take those blurry photos of Big Foot. He smiled... or smirked. It was hard to tell.
I mentioned Big Foot, just to demonstrate that I’m a person who is able to maintain a sense of humor during the Age of Fear. And, I have every confidence that the last person to have a sense of humor has yet to be born. We’ll get through this… until we don’t. And, fear not, this is not the time we don’t. (Isaiah 41:10) – Next time.