Not of terrorists. We can personally plan for the randomness of terrorism only as much as we can plan for severe weather and personal protection and as a nation we've survived worse than 9/11.
It's the other stuff I fear, things individuals can't plan for because they steal from us what we don't even realize is lost until it's too late.
I'm terrified for our country, for what it stands.
After 9/11 the president said be afraid, but go shopping. Laws were passed that infringe upon my constitutional rights to freedom of speech and religion, from search and seizure, to access to public records and meetings, and more. They are meant to silence me, intimidate me, keep me unaware of what my government is doing, and prevent me from defending myself even if I'm wrongly accused.
Total strangers shout at me for expressing anything but blind faith in the president and his political party because "we're at war" and for some reason this means we have to swallow any foolishness that comes out of Washington. I'm told I must accept a religious political ideology that doesn't match my spiritual beliefs or religious tradition, and accept the codification of discrimination.
I'm terrified that the freedoms we revere are denied by strident calls to keep us uninformed and "right thinking."
Osama bin Laden remains free, and terrorist ranks are swelling, because we invaded a country that posed no imminent danger to America. It's a basic truth: Attack a sovereign nation and its people will hate and resist you. If the world suddenly tried to overthrow our war-mongering regime, wouldn't we all take up arms in our country's defense? Can we expect less of the Iraqis?
It's not our right to wage war on ideology. That smacks of the Crusades. Ideological change must take place from within, as it did in our Revolutionary War and Civil War. If our mission, as the president now states, is to spread freedom and democracy in the world, how many more nations will we be invading? The other 60 nations harboring terrorists?
I'm terrified for my nieces and nephews in their teens and 20s, and for my own son in grade school. Because a culture of war cannot sustain itself without the bodies of our young.
The president promises there will be no draft. If he continues on the path he has already chosen, he will have no choice.
While the president focused on war, my family's meager health coverage went up more than $150 per month, for fewer benefits, higher deductibles, and not one cent of pharmacy. The president talks about medical savings accounts and catastrophic plans that have lifetime caps on medical coverage. Savings accounts are great if you have the money to save, and if those accounts aren't being constantly depleted covering your care.
I'm terrified that I will soon reach a break point where I can no longer afford to give anything else up to pay for health insurance premiums.
I've tried to plan for the future. But the future and all its medical savings accounts, private Social Security accounts and IRAs rely on economic performance that ended in 2001.
I'm terrified I won't be able to provide for my retirement or my son's education.
While distracting us with orange alerts and Iraq, the government has used Orwellian language to roll back 40 years of environmental gains. Under titles like "Clear Skies" and "Healthy Forests" the president has allowed increased pollution and destruction of our environment, dismissing science while placing corporations in charge of the agencies meant to regulate them. Instead of investing in alternative fuels that could improve profitability and free us of foreign oil, the president's focus is on drilling for oil in Alaska and making wilderness accessible to miners and clear cutters.
I'm terrified that we will take this planet too far to recover. That we will leave for our children a legacy of disease, and a planet denuded of the beauty and health sustained by its diversity.
I'm terrified by what I'm seeing in this election. Voter registration scams, "suppress the vote" efforts, outright lies and distortions of candidate records, attempts to assassinate character and disparage service, corporate campaigning and media partisanship. These are agents against democracy. They intend to disenfranchise we the people, to take away our voice and deny us the opportunity to make informed choice.
Not one of the nine presidencies I've lived through was perfect, no matter its achievements. Almost all of them lied, cheated, misled, spent like drunken sailors or used fear to manipulate us. President Bush promised he would bring integrity to the office and would not engage in nation building. He claimed he was a peace president and a uniter, not a divider. All the while he has pushed an agenda of corporate payoffs, nepotism, war and evangelic nation building. He's built a climate of fear and an intolerance of dissent. He has chosen to take from our future and to erode our freedoms.
Terrorists win when we lose our freedoms.
I'm terrified, almost paralyzed with fear, for the state of democracy in America.
Meg Turville-Heitz lives in Cambridge, Wisconsin.
© 2004 The Capital Times