When I was a little girl, I was constantly worried about myself and my family, because we were regularly reminded that the world was dangerous and we were most likely to be killed by an atom bomb. Air raid drills, hiding under desks, and creating underground shelters were an almost daily part of my young life. “Remove all pens, pencils and sharp objects from your breast pocket; take off your glasses; look away from the window; find a buddy and hold hands; no talking; walk quickly to the basement; get on your knees; place your head against the wall; and wait for the all-clear signal.” (And hope the teacher forgets about the arithmetic test you didn’t study for.)
Looking back, it was a ridiculously traumatic way to grow up. It bred us to be afraid. But, like so many awful things, you got used to it. The fear of instant annihilation was just always lurking in the background.
That is, until it wasn’t. Somehow, over time, the inevitability of the mushroom cloud simply went away. Wise and prudent men in our country and others found a better way to exercise their hatred and fear of each other’s social and economic systems. We had a cold war that turned into a cold shoulder that turned into a really stiff bout of “I’m not talking to you.”
Now it seems that the tide is changing again. Fear is again on the horizon daily. But there is so much more to be afraid of. Gangs, drugs that will be forced into our food stream, and every third story on Facebook is a conspiracy post about someone or something that stalked them at Walmart and tried to take away what is precious to us. Wise and prudent men are no more, and the unthinkable is back on the table. Death and suffering on an unimaginable scale is once again an option. The low drumbeat of existential dread has returned, and I find myself thinking odd thoughts like: “I hope someone reminds our leaders that no one looks good in a hazmat suit, and that we even tired of the Homeland Security Warning System.” Hopefully sooner than later, we will again be lulled back to our comfort zone with the knowledge that we don’t have to be afraid of life.
-Stacey Smith, PQC President & CEO