These days I am terribly bothered by the prevalence of encouragement to BE AFRAID. I know this has been going on for awhile, and ramped-up a thousand-fold at 9/11. And it’s always been over-the-top, but OH MY GOSH things are out of hand.
There’s an election coming up, and I attended the Candidates’ Forum held at the Malo Grange. I heard several of the candidates make impassioned statements about how they were committed to “protecting our rights”. Such statements were accompanied by what was essentially encouragement (or admonishment) to BE AFRAID.
I am not delighted by this, and frankly cannot give my vote to someone who is stirring up (mostly groundless) fear. I mean it is one thing to alert us to real hazards, but trying to convince us there is a Bogeyman out to get us? And using the Bogeyman as a campaign ploy?
Holding a County Commissioner seat is a big deal in these parts. The current race is “hot”. Cynthia Bonneau-Green and Brian Dansel are competing for the seat in District 2 of Ferry County, Washington (the county where I now reside).
I heard them both speak at the recent forum, and they’ve both come by door-belling for our votes, so I’ve had a few moments with them one-on-one.
I’ve been contemplative about this race. The seat is an important one in this rural county. We have the lowest population density in the state, and only about one-quarter of the land is privately owned; our tax base is very limited. And, the local industries, well they aren’t flush. These days they consist mainly of Kinross gold mine and Homeland Security’s Border Patrol. (This is setting aside the illegal industries such as meth labs, pot, and drug “importation”.)
This is a complex county. Real old skool about things such as “property rights” and “bearing arms” and anti-”tree huggers” sentiment. It’s not a rich county. And as a sociologist I infer that some peoples’ attitudes are just what you might expect from folks who feel they are “on the wrong side of the tracks” and looked down upon. It is evermore easy for people here to compare their lives unfavorably to the greenies who live on the coast.
It’s not lost on me that folks here refer to the coast side of the state as, “the other side” and that there is an antagonistic and/or divisive aspect to that.
In any event, today I asked candidate Brian Dansel what he thought a Commissioner’s role is in regard to the trees that are dying in this county. You see, there is a horrific infestation of bark beetles that is killing the pine trees throughout the county, and these beetles move from tree to tree to tree. This is a big deal, and from what I have seen so far, nothing is really being done about it. Granted, there’s not a consensus about what can be done. But, once the trees are killed, they are good for nothing but making fires – in a woodstove, and as forest fires. Not lumber, not houses, not jobs really.
I was struck that Mr. Dansel’s first response to my question was in regard to safety (dead trees are inclined to fall easily). Then we talked about fire (dead trees like to burn). But what is more onerous from my perspective is how the loss of these trees is going to affect the county on a larger scale, really devastating the landscape and I feel, de-valuing property. I was surprised that this wasn’t candidate Dansel’s first focus here, but his concern about safety comports with his emphasis on fear.
James Von Sauer, candidate for District Court Judge, says, “Everyone here is about to lose [their rights]“; he’s going to help protect them. But, I thought a judge’s role was to protect my rights by applying the law. I don’t understand how “rights being lost” is relevant to which is the best candidate for this District Court Judge seat.
These cries for fear are joined by other candidates. Dennis Boone, candidate for Sheriff, wants to “make Ferry County a safer place” which of course is nice, but focuses on Ferry County as an un-safe place. Boone hopes to train citizens to be reserve officers and thereby expand his force. I dunno. Sounds big-brother to me.
Now, “property rights” has been bandied about a lot in the current campaigns. “Olympia is trying to take away the freedom of the people” says Representative Joel Kretz. That confuses me a little, because as I see it, Homeland Security is leading the way in that regard, much more so than Olympia. And no public official at the county level is going to trump Homeland Security. Neither is our state representative.
When living in a state of fear, thinking cannot happen. Thinking, examining, reasoning, cannot happen when we’re super-charged with avoiding danger and surviving. I think that all this encouragement to be afraid helps distract us from our real lives, and what is truly happening around us. In a county such as Ferry County, stirring up fear keeps us from looking close and asking hard questions.
I am newly returned to this county and am only just learning what questions to ask. But I can see the trees dying around me and the noxious weeds obliterating the pastures, and want to know why every resident of this county isn’t very concerned about this.
I guess there are many more important things to sit around and be fearful of, at least according to many candidates in the upcoming election.
(With all due respect to those whose foremost concerns is keeping food on the table and diapers in the bassinet.)
But really people. Can we quit listening to the folks who are yelling “FIRE” in our crowded theater, sending us racing around in a senseless flurry, hoping that someone will protect us? The only Bogeyman is the one within our heads; and protection from a Bogeyman is a matter of using our minds.
Can we get out of our comfortable chairs and take ownership of our own damn lives?
Photo: Worry Wart’s File Cabinet. Actual file folder labels:
My own personal cheat sheet for the Washington election. Opinions expressed are not solely those of the writer; the management concurs.
1053 – No. This one’s Tim Eyman’s right. Enough said.
1082 – No. I’ve seen the nasty effects of self-administered L&I coverage and of insurance companies going TU. I can’t see the up side to this one.
1098 – No. Lifelong Washington resident just can’t get behind a state income tax. And, sorry, I don’t adhere to punishing people for success.
1100 and 1105 – No and No. Yeah, state stores as a source of booze are f*cked up. As is the WSLCB. But I don’t think these approaches are beneficial to the whole of society.
1107 – No. I was around for the changes made to sales tax that took it off food and medicine sales. Candy and soda pop are not food. Sorry. They might be a drug, but they are not food. Leave the tax.