Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


January 15, 2013

We the People: Fearing Fear Itself

CROSSVILLE — A current political preoccupation is fear mongering. Many are convinced that Muslims are planning to take over the government by force. A puzzling number find that believable and buy more guns. Some fear that the government has gone bonkers and is threatening the freedom of everybody. Just why the government would want that is unclear because the people are the government.

There are individuals and movements that see socialism growing among us like fungus. A few are afraid of the decades-old ideas of Franklin Roosevelt. They thump their tubs to inspire quivering. It’s not always clear what alarmists are for, or against, or afraid of. But one thing is clear. There are innocent people who are easily led (or misled) by pronouncements from the fringe nuts of the world who are in hot pursuit of lost causes and self-serving ambitions.

Some threats, however, appear to be worth serious thought. There was a startling article in last November’s Atlantic Monthly. According to the Atlantic article, it is now possible for computer hackers who work with synthetic biology to cheaply sequence and rearrange human genetic material. A few years ago it was expensive to sequence DNA and manipulate it. Modifying DNA was used almost exclusively to cure diseases. Unlike bacteria which attack human organs and infect or destroy them, a virus enters human cells and replaces the cell’s DNA with foreign DNA and then reproduces the altered cell. That may create positive changes by producing modified cells to resist diseases. But hackers can also recreate modified cells to kill us and spread disease. We could become at risk for a pandemic because DNA sequencing and modification has been simplified and made cheap enough that anyone with a few thousand dollars and the right technical training can manufacture all kinds of deadly viral mischief. It would be safe to wager that enemies of our country are doing that very thing in small and clandestine laboratories in several countries. That is a real fear to be reckoned with.

So, where should we come down? On the dark side of humanity’s fear? Or should we follow the Pollyanna streak in our nature and pretend our world is always bright and sunny? Probably neither. Life is risky. It always has been. Our solar system and our universe are violent places. We could get hit by a wandering asteroid or comet that could cause tsunamis and release poisonous volcanic gases. All plants and animals could die.

Risk is a part of life. Politics can’t stop every catastrophe. Perhaps the most important thing is to learn more about the world and to consider our options rationally in the unlikely event of a huge catastrophe. We should make it a point to not manufacture fear or pass along what we know is not true just to bolster a political point. Humans have lived on the earth for thousands of years. The life on earth has been around for billions of years and probably will keep going for a long, long time. We should concentrate on finding more truth and cultivating less fear if we really want to find ways to work together to preserve human civilization instead of ending it.

Text Only
  • LION AND THE LAMB: Four ways to demonstrate opposition

    Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan mention in their book, “The Last Week,” that Roman-occupied Palestine during the first century was under the control of Pontius Pilate who lived in the coastal city of Caesarea. Each year at the beginning of the Passover observance when Jews celebrated their liberation from Egypt, Pilate feared that they might be getting ideas about revolting from Rome, so he would come with additional soldiers on horses to beef up the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. 

    April 15, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: Is it (new) party time?

    The Democratic and Republican parties are toast, according to Joe Trippi. The Republican Party is coming apart at its Tea Party seam. Democratic candidates struggle to celebrate President Obama’s health care successes, while responding to criticism of his failed promises, e.g., government transparency.

    April 15, 2014

  • TIDBITS: I found it at the library

    I have such fond memories of going to my local library as a child, searching through shelf after shelf and finding a book that would make me a Little Princess in World War II England, or bring me along as Nancy Drew solved the Secret in the Old Attic.

    April 14, 2014

  • STUMPTALK: The reason words have meaning

    If words did not have accepted meanings we would not be able to communicate effectively and civilized society would not exist.

    April 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Do we really believe in democracy?

    The recent Supreme Court decision, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, is in a long line of debates about power in a democracy. Should power be in the hands of all the citizens or should it be in hands of those who have greater wealth and social position?

    April 8, 2014

  • We the People: Public education or business opportunity?

    A month ago, we followed the money trail left by a ‘think tank’ to the major sources funding an attack on our traditional, locally controlled public schools. We saw that a handful of billionaires provide major support to many organizations lobbying for change.

    April 8, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Just another government lie?

    There is a vault located in Fort Knox, Kentucky. It was built in 1936 and encased in 16 cubic feet of granite and 4200 feet of cement. The door is made of 20-inch thick material that is immune to drills, torches and explosives.

    April 7, 2014

  • GARY'S WORLD: The chance to speak your mind

    Are you tired of hearing people complain about the way things are run in Cumberland County? Or, do you like the way the county government is run and operated in our beautiful county?
    Are you happy with the way things are, or would you like some change?

    April 3, 2014

  • LION AND THE LAMB: Digging beneath the headlines

    Our media have been focusing on two important events that have taken place overseas during the last several weeks.

    April 1, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: SNAP, health and work

    A recent letter from Representative Diane Black to me states that she voted for the farm bill (with $8 million in Food Stamp (SNAP) benefit cuts) because she, like me, is a supporter of food stamp benefits for Tennessee families who qualify. That’s a lot of families, as most recipients are families with children and the elderly. Now, recall that there was already a major cut to the food stamp program back in the fall. But for some Republicans, that was not enough.

    April 1, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Disbanding Muslim Surveillance Draws Praise Hundreds Missing After South Korean Ferry Sinks Passengers Abuzz After Plane Hits Swarm of Bees Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Pistorius Trial: Adjourned Until May 5 Diaz Gets Physical for New Comedy Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar