Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.
Sunday, February 6, 2011
Thoughts From the Fortress
From the Fortress of Solitude
Am I the only one who's noticed the dark clouds of gloom and doom hovering over so many people's heads these days? When I listen to them they remind me of a tune I once heard on the old TV show "Hee Haw". If I remember correctly, it's lyrics were, "Doom despaire and utter poverty, deep dark depression and complete misery. If it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all..."
My office desk is located at the crossroads of three of our five simulators at the Space Center, so I get to listen to people from every part of the State, along with my own staff and the staff of Central School, tell me their premonitions of impending doom. They feel the Apocalypse is nigh. They see the writing on the wall.
Much of their concern stems from the gloom and doom news commentary heard on radio and television from commentators who make their living by selling doomsdayism. They drive people into hysterical panics for ratings and the selling of books, pamplets and newsletters.
I remember once talking to someone whom I thought was reasonably intelligent about my plan to get a flu shot later that same day. He urged me not to get it. He'd heard that the government put something into the shot to make us deathly sick. The purpose was to thin the surplus population. How many things like that have you heard? The internet is ripe with them, and it will only get worse as 2012 comes closer.
"There has never been so much unrest in the world," I've heard some say (funny, but they've forgotten both world wars).
"Have you noticed the strange weather, just as foretold," others say (funny, but have they forgotten the dust bowl of the 30's? Just to name one example).
I've lived long enough to see bad times come and go. Just from what I know about history, I guarantee there have been worse times. I challenge anyone to bring me evidence that what we see and hear today is worse than anything that has happened in the past. You'll find it difficult if not impossible to do so. Isn't it a pity students today aren't spending more time studying history? Without that historical foundation, our students lack the mental tools needed to sift through the propaganda to see what's true and relevant.
I bring up this topic for one reason. I fear that Fear Itself may eventually be the agent responsible for the collapse of our free society. And from freedom's ashes would rise a police state, as has happened in the past. When people are frightened, they are more inclined to surrender their personal liberties in return for safety. We see it happening today. We fear terrorism, so we spend billions of dollars on ultra top secret agencies which in turn watch us, listen to us, and track what we say and do. I wonder if the terrorists have won to some degree, through our reactions and overreactions to their threats and deeds.
Our ancestors fled the old world and came to America for the very freedoms we are in danger of losing if we are not careful. They fought in our nation's wars to protect those freedoms. It is up to us to take measured and prudent actions not to lose the very thing they fought and died for, even if it means risk. We cannot let fear run our lives.
Nobody ever said freedom was free.
A Lesson from Growing Up in the Old Days.
The picture above reminds me of the kind of South Dakota parenting that raised me in the 60's and 70's. I remember once telling my mother I hated her. I was an impatient youngster who wanted everything my way. I wanting to go outside and join my friends in a dirt clod fight down at the vacant lot at the end of the street. Mother wanted me to spend my precious play time cleaning my room or something equally as painful. I got a couple good swats on the rear end for saying what I said and got sent to my room. A few minutes later she heard me laughing. It was my way of telling her that the spanking didn't hurt. The event escalated to the point where I told her I wanted to run away and never come back. She agreed, telling me that if I didn't want to be a part of the family I should go and find a family that would let me do anything I wanted - when I wanted. She drove me out of town and deposited me on the side of the road with a small suitcase she'd helped me pack. She told me she loved me and wished me well. She jumped into the Rambler station wagon and drove away.
I was suddenly on my own, on the highway leading to the Reservation. I could see myself getting taken by away by a band of Sioux Indians thinking I was General Custer's great great grandson or something. I burst into tears, and for the first time in my life, was truly frightened of being alone. A moment later the Rambler came back. The 60 seconds or so it took her to make a U turn taught me the lesson she wanted me to learn. It was a hard lesson for me to learn but one I've never forgotten. Would a parent dare try something like that today? I ask that because Utah is about to pass a law forbidding parents from leaving unattended children in parked cars, let alone on the side of a road. It was a different world back then.
Thanks for that lesson Mom.