POCATELLO, ID – Every town has one, the paranoid guy who builds an unattractive high wall around his property. He installs glaring motion lights that wake up the neighbors when cats and owls breach his perimeter. Black and red signs stapled in intervals along the fence remind possible trespassers:
“KEEP OUT! THIS MEANS YOU.”
“THIS PROPERTY PROTECTED BY SMITH & WESSON; WARNING SHOTS WILL NOT BE FIRED.”
“THIS HOME IS PROTECTED BY THE GOOD LORD AND A GUN.”
If people do remain outside the fence, it’s most probably not because of the signs or the threat of being shot, but the knowledge that there’s nothing on the other side of the fence a neighbor or burglar would want that he or she can’t get elsewhere with less hassle.
Such places, and the characters who own them, are irresistible to young boys with snowballs, however.
It’s about time Americans face up to the fact that there’s no such thing as absolute security. The concept is little more than a myth as history proves. Walls and fortresses are eventually breached or become uncomfortable prisons when patient enemies starve their occupants down. Standing armies are defeated by angry revolutions, or deemed superfluous when economies and philosophies shift.
Windows and doors are only useful shields as the social agreement we have with our communities. Guns in a household can backfire during an emotional crisis or in the hands of the ignorant or insane, or a burglar turns the owner’s gun on the owner. Sometimes self-defense can’t be proved and a gun owner goes to jail.
Unfortunately, security, rather than harmony, is the buzz word of the new Millennium, and in this atmosphere of corporate media-charged fear, images of guns, battle helmets and tanks seem to rule our collective minds. The more fear, the happier the marketers.
Security is the hot sales word. Guns, burglar alarm systems as well as votes and war are sold to us using the same rhetoric. Terrorists and atheists are out to get us and we must be prepared.
Our movies and TV programs conjure up terrorists the same way they conjured up invisible spies in the 1950s and 1960s during the Red Scare, another absurd historical interval in which we were told there was a communist under every rock out to get us. My aunt had terrifying nightmares about Russians coming up out of the gully behind her house wielding machine guns.
Who’s gonna rule the world with the biggest bombs? Who gets all the oil? Whose definition of “family values” and egomania will plunge us backwards morally for a thousand years?
But when we actually get a look at the real ravages of this nonsense, that is, the inadvertent permission our manufactured fears give to armies and mercenaries to attack vulnerable people, when in our hearts we know they’re merely in the way of corporate “development” and the plundering of international resources, we find we are impotent to prevent it.
The demonizing and bombing of fellow humans living dusty lives in poverty in far away very real worlds is kept from our gaze. On national news programs, we are allowed to see the devastation of buildings and maybe an occasional funeral procession, a handful of women crying, but the real blood, images of dismembered children, and other atrocities are hidden causing puzzlement when our troops return home physically and psychologically damaged for the rest of their lives.
These returning specters represent the real infiltration of the American public, the scarred remnants of “liberty and justice for all,” that no amount of propaganda can cover up or heal.
When all is said and done, what we find are hungry, exhausted and emotionally traumatized populations around the globe. Real people, sad and hungry, shuttled about and manipulated by a handful of the powerful.
Displacement is perhaps the greatest evil of our times.
People do indeed have roots and when they are ensconced in their familiar habitat, they tend to thrive. When displaced by the destruction of habitat via war or greedy corporations sucking local resources out and away, they suffer horrifically.
When our surroundings no longer support us, we emigrate; we move to where the food is. Walls and political borders will not keep desperate people from seeking food, shelter and peace of mind. Has history taught us nothing?
What on this Mother Earth can really matter to people, rich or poor, other than a full stomach, interesting work to do, singing with friends and hugging our children? This is what the “soul” is made of, what the human soul requires in order to thrive, and all that matters in my private Everywhere.