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  • Kathryn Patterson

The Battle for Our Future

Unrest in the Middle East, potential economic breakdown, bank foreclosures on family homes, wobbly unemployment numbers, abortion, gay marriage - these topics dominate headlines these days as the presidential election goes into its final weeks.  Which candidate will help the economy the most?  Which candidate will strength the U.S. position in the world more?  Which candidate will protect the moral fiber of our country?  Which candidate will help me the most?

Romney or Obama??

Obama or Romney???

CHOOSE OR DIE!!! Okay, that might be a bit overly dramatic, but that's the feeling generated by the media these days.  And yet, I believe the biggest threat lies not in the Middle East, nor in Asia, or even the U.N.  The biggest threat lies not in the Democratic party or their so-called "socialist" agenda.  The biggest threat lies not with the Republican party or their fiscally conservative ways.  (I would put "so-called" here, but real Republicans are fiscally conservative.) The real threat, the basic problem underlying the vast majority of our nation's problem, venerated as a media darling, guaranteed to sell newspapers or garner viewership, the one constant so prevalent in our lives that we take it for granted, is fear. We promote "Stranger Danger" in elementary schools, even though statistically strangers are safer than family members. We pass zero tolerance laws because we are afraid that if we "tolerant" anything the world will end. We don't trust men, any man, to photograph children in public, or walk with children in public, or be associated with children at all.  Why?  Because all men are assumed to be predators unless otherwise proven safe. We fear people who are different, passing laws on immigration and homosexuality based not on moral or financial reasons, but on fear. Fear begat racial profiling. Fear begat hover parenting. Fear begat the Tea Party, otherwise known as The American Taliban.  (View this video if you want to know why I view the Tea Party this way.) Fear led a city to ask a deaf child to change his name from Hunter to anything else, so long as the sign for the name did not offend anyone. Fear led to a man looking for his lost dog to get approach by the police, who got phone calls reporting him as a sexual predator. Fear led to adults no longer being allowed to sit in park with playgrounds unless they are with a child. Fear led to children being discouraged from walking to school or biking around the neighborhood, unless they have a parent with them. Fear led to our county not allowing any child under 8 off the bus without an adult to supervise them. Fear led to a man being arrested for allowing his two sons to play by themselves at a park while he ran errands nearby. Every day, fear erodes away at our personal liberties and freedoms, convincing the general public that the cost of those freedoms will be the DEATH of our child or of the American way, which is ironic considering that this same fear is killing the American way. What can we do against such power as this fear?  How can anyone make a difference, change the fear into trust? Franklin D. Roosevelt put it best in his first Inguinal speech:

This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. Recognize the fear in you.  If you do not acknowledge and conquer your own fear, your fear will control your actions. Recognize the fear in society.  Personally, I read and support the Free Range Kids blog, because I believe that Lenore's work helps people to see how ridiculous this fear is.  I also write about my forays into Free Range parenting, though to be honest it doesn't feel any different from how I was raised. Lastly, work to fight the fear.  If presented with a vote, choose the option that promotes trust, not fear.  Stop calling the police every time you see an unknown man around a child.  Encourage your own children to go out and explore the world without needing your physical presence.  Organize "Leave Your Child at the Park" days in your community. Just do something.  Otherwise, the fear will never go away.  And your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren,... will have to live, smothered by this all-encompassing fear. To modify a famous quote:  "Fear only triumphs when good people stand by and do nothing."

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