I started school in the late 1960's. I know I sound much younger....but I'm not. I have survived, free love, mini skirts, tie dye, Disco, spandex, shoulder pads, big hair and spanx.
My mom was a child of the WWII era, and like all who lived through that wartime, the fear of communism was very real. By the time I was born, communism didn't seem to be as much of a threat, but we learned about it none the less. In fact, the slogan Better Dead than Red was still a popular one clear up until the 1970's. I think the world was cautious, but also realistic. Being just a couple of decades out of WWII and seeing other wars like Korea and Vietnam and with the new found ability to have a front row seat to war every night on the evening news, we were aware that war was a possibility, but my generation really didn't fear it. School, as well as our families taught us that we lived in the most powerful nation in the world. It was not us who should fear, but others who should fear us. It was because of this, that I had such a phenomenal childhood.
I remember the first moment that I realized the world could be scary. I was walking home from school and some guy in a car tried to get me to get in with him. He chased me all the way home. Luckily I was only a few houses away and I screamed to the top of my lungs all the way home. He drove off and Mom did call the police. It seems that I was not his first attempt that day. I couldn't tell you if they ever caught him and although I remember the moment, I don't remember long lasting fear from it because my folks didn't dwell on it. I later learned that until we moved from that house, my mother never took her eyes off me when I walked both to and from school, but she never let me know that. She didn't want me to be afraid.
It wasn't until 1974, that I ever felt any real fear. It was in reaction to my mother's reaction as she
We had lost our innocence and fear was beginning to take hold. However, after a time things went back to a semi-normal life. In the 1970's, we were still not a world and Kansas was not a state where we bowed to fear....even if there was a BTK lurking somewhere in the shadows. Life went on, people used common sense and no one was about to let fear rule them.
Since the OKC bombing, there have been a succession of school shootings, fatal riots and horrific and brutal crimes even in the smallest of towns which have fed the fear and caused the world to change forever. Possibly the biggest change came on September 11, 2001 when the Twin Towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, DC were hit by suicide bombers. What had been fear was now terror and this country would never be the same again.
So the question is now, does fear rule us? Have we let the world change us to the point that we choose fear and because of this....are we also passing this on to our kids? This has been on my mind a great deal of late. I realize that there are parts of our country, especially in more urban areas that crime is a huge factor and both economic and cultural norms make safety a sought after commodity with fear being the only way to survive. However, that is not the entire country and many of us still live in smaller, quieter areas where crime is not a daily way of life. That being said, even those of us who don't live under an umbrella of daily crime still get our daily dose of "bad" every time we turn on our computers or look at our cell phones or even watch the news. Every reported evil deed in this country appears in our facebook and twitter news feeds. We get Amber Alerts multiple times a day and yes, we still have the occasional crime that pops up and rocks our world regardless of where in the world we live. The Boston Marathon bombing is a prime example of this. So even in FarmTown, Middle of Nowhere....we are only the touch of a button away from all that is bad in the world. It festers and it feeds our fears on a minute by minute basis.
Now, life is much different. Lunches are closed, school yards are fenced and school doors are locked after all kids are inside. Parents and anyone else who have to come to the schools must ring a doorbell attached to cameras and a speaker and people have to be buzzed into the school. Security is tight as are the new privacy laws where kids pictures can't be taken other than for professional school pictures and even unimportant and non confidential information is forbidden to be passed around (yeah like that actually happens) and everyone appears to be suspicious until otherwise proven not suspicious. It is all based on fear and the "what if's" of a town, post Jonesboro, Columbine and Sandy Hook. So I ask, have we taken things too far? Is the school reinforcing fear in their parents and therefore teaching the kids to also be afraid? Are we saying that the only way kids are safe in school is to be locked in while the world (parents, grandparents and everyone else) is locked out? I know for a fact that not every school in this country goes to these extremes. In fact, not every school in my state or even my area does. It is getting so bad that if a grandparent wanders onto the playground....it puts the whole school into a lock down. Have we allowed fear to over ride common sense or are these measures merely a sign of the times and worse....a sign of more extremes to come?
The world is an amazing place, with much to see and do. However, if we live in fear of the "what ifs" and the unknowns then just how much are we depriving ourselves of? If we instill fear instead of common sense in our kids, how much will they miss out on in life? There will always be BTK's, Columbines and OKC's, but do we let those things win or do we balance them out with a little bit of trust and a whole lot of common sense? I would like to think it's the latter. How about you?
Now....anyone want to meet me in the sprinkler?