The Only Thing We Have To Fear

To the Editor:

The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is ... Everything!

In a word, Sinkholes! More about that later....

In the 1986 sci-fi thriller, The Fly, a scientist begins to turn into a fly.  As he implores one of the characters, “Don’t be afraid,” a reporter covering the experiment responds, “No. Be afraid...be very afraid!”

A tagline from Last House on the Left (1972), cautioned viewers:  “To avoid fainting, keep repeating ‘It's only a movie...It's only a movie...’”

And, Jaws 2 reprised the terror of shark attacks, admonishing, “Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water.”

These were just movies – albeit movies designed to scare the pants off of anyone who wanted his pants scared off!  Why else would Stephen King novels, and horror films be so popular? People love being scared!  Hitchcock put us on alert with The Birds :  “...and remember, the next scream you hear may be your own!”

Nineteenth Century poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, coined the term, “the willing suspension of disbelief”  which means, essentially, we buy into the fantastic or surrealistic to experience “a semblance of truth” – and, thus be frightened out of our wits for the duration.

Recently, a Florida man died when his house was swallowed into a huge sinkhole. Trapped in his bed, his death was both tragic and bizarre; but the media exploited this incident as only the media can do. Sinkhole mania took hold, and sinkhole phobia ensued. Sure there are sinkholes, but most are not fatal!

By now the public should be accustomed to these fear-mongering tactics, but we’re still suckers who love to be scared. Remember the “killer bees” from Africa? Mall escalators threatening to eat our toddlers? Razors hidden in apples to shred the lips and tongues of our young Halloweeners ?  Never happened.  Flu shots or else.  West Nile Virus.  Mad Cow Disease.  I can’t remember all of what has threatened to do us in.... 

Political leaders also thrive on keeping us in constant fear of something ...or someone! Homeland Security gave us Codes Yellow/Orange/Red – actually suggesting how scared we should be! Condeleeza Rice warned, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” (Yikes!)

Back in the day, a series “bad guys” threatened us from afar:  The Ayatollah Khomeini, Manuel Noriega, Idi Amin, Mummar Qaddafi, Saddam Hussein, and Osama Bin Laden. Clearly, not all of these threats were “empty.” Sadly, people have become ill and/or died from some or all of these menaces.  But the ever-vigilant spin of the media, ensuring corporate profits, did as good a job as Stephen King and Freddy Krueger keeping us cowering in our boots.

And, if sinkholes don’t get us, the NRA assures us our fellow citizens will. Stay afraid. Arm everyone. Shoot your neighbor before he shoots you.  Bad is all around, and only guns will protect you, blah, blah, blah...Ka-ching! The money keeps pouring in.

I prefer the advice from the remake of Psycho: “Check in. Relax. Take a shower.”

Michael Luzzi

173 Boggs Hill Road, Newtown                                   March 27, 2013

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