We’re all gonna die

(From Refuse to be Afraid Tenth Anniversary Edition, now on sale at a ridiculous introductory price)

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear.

Mark Twain

My eye was caught at the antique store by a thick, well-worn book titled “Modern Medical Counselor.” By its condition it was clear the book was anything but modern, and the price ($2) was right, so, figuring it would be an interesting excursion into the past, I brought it home.

What actually caught my attention was the section that I casually opened to, even before I brought the book home: “Survival in Atomic Bombing.” The copyright date of the book is 1951, so browsing through this book will be a traipse through an era where communism and nuclear death were our greatest fears.

With the knowledge of what was to happen in the next 60 years, we know the fears were largely unfounded. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are still the only cities ever destroyed by atomic bombs. Although the great communist bogeyman reared his ugly head many times over the years, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics fell apart under the weight of its totalitarian follies and China has decided to try burying us the good old American way, by establishing government-subsidized monopolies. Continue reading “We’re all gonna die”

Book release: This frightening world being built around us

Refuse to be Afraid 2020 BREFUSE TO BE AFRAID Tenth Anniversary Edition on sale now in print and at a special introductory price from Kobo and Kindle.

I’ve wondered about the kids who were born around 2001, the ones who have now graduated from high school and whose impression of Sept. 11, 2001, is like mine of the Korean War, which entered a permanent truce around the time I was born: A relic of history of which they have no direct memory.

They have never lived in a world where you could enter an airport or a large public building without being screened and searched, their personal property and selves treated as if they may be planning a crime, guilty until proved innocent. They have never lived in a world not cluttered with cameras and other surveillance devices. They don’t know what it’s like to walk free wherever you go. Continue reading “Book release: This frightening world being built around us”

Would you rather be safe or free?

safe or free (Willow)

You’ll break the worry habit the day you decide you can meet and master the worst that can happen to you.

Arnold Glasgow

Would you rather be safe or free?

It’s been the central question in the United States of America for two decades now.

In April 1999 a couple of kids at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., committed an atrocity, shooting 35 students and teachers, killing 13 of them, before turning the guns on themselves. In the days immediately after, there was much talk about clamping down on the possession of guns and adding great layers of security to the classroom experience.

I wrote this in my newspaper column in the aftermath:

Continue reading “Would you rather be safe or free?”

This is the day

this is the day

“Good morning! Coming up in the news, things could not possibly be worse! Death! Destruction! Violence and mayhem against persons and property! Unspeakable rudeness! We’ll have a complete report. But first, here’s Todd with a look at the weather.”

“Hi folks! It’s a beautiful day outside, but don’t worry, it’s going to get worse in no time at all.”

I defy you. Continue reading “This is the day”

The terrifying disease that didn’t kill me

dreamstime_s_93703668 crying child and mom

The symptoms

Most things I worry about never happen anyway.

Tom Petty

I hadn’t been alive for very long, and I was pretty sure I didn’t want to die yet. The little poster in the front window of the barber shop in Little Falls, N.J., told me it might not be long.

In stark bold letters, the poster announced “The 7 warning signs of leukemia.” I didn’t know exactly what leukemia was, but it sounded scary and in the late 1950s it was almost always fatal. The poster said it was cancer of the blood.

I did an inventory for the signs. “Change in a mole or wart” — well, my little body was littered with moles, but I was pretty sure they all looked the same as the day before. “Fatigue” — no, I had plenty of energy; I was a kid after all. “Hoarseness” —

I cleared my throat.

Was I hoarse? I did have a little bit of a tickle there, a small frog perhaps. I tried a few words.

“Hello? Hello? Oh no.” Continue reading “The terrifying disease that didn’t kill me”