The Little Death

“Society is held together by our need; we bind it together with legend, myth, coercion, fearing that without it we will be hurled into that void, within which, like the earth before the Word was spoken, the foundations of society are hidden.” ~ James Arthur Baldwin

People enjoy a well-told story. The better the narrative, the more likely the tale will be believed. Like Tinkerbell and the clapping of little hands, repetition can revive a narrative, regardless of all evidence to the contrary, thus granting it new life. In this unprecedented age of mass media indoctrination, coupled with near-instantaneous communication across the globe, a small nugget of truth grows into a full-sized mountain, and slides down upon us. Perhaps the most important story of recent American politics is the existence of an “imminent threat” posed by countries far from our borders, on the other side of the world.

“One cannot let dangers grow to the point of imminent threat to the United States without taking action. And if other measures fail, obviously we retain to right to use force.” ~ Stephen Hadley

While much of the rest of the planet has suffered from the repeated destruction of persons and property on a large scale, on our “island” we enjoyed a sense of security. No missiles could reach our heartland. No bombers could drop their payload of death without appearing on constantly-monitored screens. Our international network of intelligence gatherers were in place to insure our security. We trusted our government. It took care of us.

On 9/11, as the American public has had pounded into their collective heads, “the world changed.”

“On September 11 2001, America felt its vulnerability even to threats that gather on the other side of the Earth. We resolved then, and we are resolved today, to confront every threat from any source that could bring sudden terror and suffering to America.” ~ George W. Bush

Fear is an amazing motivator. If you keep a population fearful and uncertain, you have control of them. Simply offer reassurances and protection from that which goes bump in the night. Thousands of people lost their lives in a coordinated attack on American soil. A great deal of effort has gone into using those deaths, promoting the fear that it could happen again.

“An element of exaggeration clings to the popular judgment: great vices are made greater, great virtues greater also; interesting incidents are made more interesting, softer legends more soft.” ~ Walter Bagehot

The administration of 2001, Democrats and Republicans, went into Afghanistan to remove public enemy number one: Osama Bin Ladin. He remains at large, a continuing threat. Our soldiers still to hunt for him, while the warlords grow their poppies and the women hide their faces. Armed with the sure knowledge possible existence of weapons of mass destruction, the United States collected allies and then invaded Iraq. The goal was to take out public enemy number two: Saddam Hussein.

Part of the “Axis of Evil,” Iraq has had its infrastructure destroyed (we can rebuild it) and its citizens killed (caught in the crossfire). Iran and North Korea are also on the big bad list. Each has the potential, we have been told, to create what other nations already have (and nearly all have given up): nuclear weapons.

“America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof, the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.” ~ George W. Bush

Our soldiers are amazing men and women who have volunteered to fight for our country. We count on our National Guard in times of disaster. They are dying, in ones and twos and threes in Iraq and Afghanistan, though this is rarely news lately. The military has been stretched thin, our Guard is not here. The drums of war continue to pound.

“No one is talking about invading Iran or taking military action against Iran.” ~ Jack Straw

“We’ve been very clear, the president, the secretary of state and others have made it very clear that the United States has no plans to invade or attack North Korea.” ~ Sean McCormack

Of course the administration claims no plans to take on another country. Between the lack of support internationally and the thinness of our current forces, we could not sustain a third front. More importantly, there is no imminent threat. In fact, there is a great deal of evidence against active nuclear weapon development in the countries we have been told to fear. The American public is still nervous, but we are not stupid. We realize now that the troops in Iraq should come home, that there is little to fear from Iran, North Korea, or any of the other countries who might “hate our freedom.”

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

It is a myth that we must constantly live in a terror-level orange society. We have given up lives, liberties, and even the pursuits of happiness because the-powers-that-be have decreed we must be fearful of an attack from the shadows.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear… And when it is gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear is gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” ~ Frank Herbert

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