Earl and I are at our local Panera again tonight. Many of the local restaurants in this area are closed on Sunday and those that were open today were focusing on Mothers’ Day festivities with brunches and the like. We were in Syracuse earlier today for a lovely brunch with my Mom, sister and nephew, but we wanted something small and relatively healthy so we opted for a quick bite at the local Panera. It is busier than I expected it to be.

I’ve been catching up on Facebook today. Amongst all the wonderful photos of folks with their mom or memorial photos posted along the same theme, there was a post from a local class mate talking about the school board’s plan to put some sort of security wall across the lobby of the elementary school I attended. This school was built in 1939 and was built in Art Deco stylings that were popular at that time. The lobby has marble walls, a grand staircase that fanned in two directions to an overlook from the second floor above. Hundreds of photos have been taken on that staircase. There are glasses trophy cases set into the walls that frame the lobby. Walking into that lobby is like taking a step back into time.

Except now the current school board feels it needs a security wall down the middle of it. To the best of my knowledge there has never been any sort of threat against the school, it’s just what we do in the United States today. We overreact to an isolated incident and convince ourselves that if it happened there, it’s going to happen here. Whenever I hear a grand speech of how Americans are resilient and strong and the best citizens in the world, I have to smirk and roll my eyes, because that is hardly the case. I can’t imagine that folks in other societies live in constant fear of some sort of manufactured boogey man.  Yes, there was an awful school shooting in an elementary school a couple of years ago. The news media, in their constant quest to gain as much ad revenue as possible by replaying the same horrific, exaggerated news stories over and over again, is successfully reprogramming the American populace to be fearful. Fearful of everything. What’s in your food? What are your neighbors up to? What is that other passenger on an airline flight writing in his diary?

Did you hear about the American Airlines flight from Philadelphia to Syracuse that was delayed a couple of days ago? A woman passenger saw a “non-American man” writing math equations in a notebook and was convinced he was a terrorist. He was removed from the flight, questioned by authorities who realized that he was a math professor and then allowed to fly on to Syracuse. The passenger that made the claim was held back for a later flight. Ignorance at its finest.

I am so tired of hearing about fear and all the terrible things that might (but most likely won’t) happen to me and/or my family. People don’t let their kids play outside anymore. Walls and gates and prison like tactics are being added to school buildings. Guards are being posted at shopping mall entrances. People are looking suspiciously at fellow citizens because they’re a little bit different. How long will it take to “chip” our kids?  If this is what we feel freedom is about in the 21st century then I want to go back to the 20th century where we were a happier place and weren’t so scared of everything. I can’t help but thing we are doing things wrong. Exaggerated response to fear is only multiplied when it’s passed from generation to generation.

When does the pendulum swing back toward rational thought?