Archive of Reader Reactions & Anecdotes

Reader Comments on Our Nation's Problem Is All of Us

From Bill, 23 February 2008:
I would like permission to send this blog, "Our Nation's Problem Is All of Us," to my ccpga (Christian Parents & Grandparents Alliance) Yahoo Alliance.

Thanks, Bill

Reply from Jack:  Permission granted, Bill. Thanks.

From Pat, 23 February 2008:

Jack,

Your blog reminded me of my own personal fear after my house was burglarized. I did not want that one experience to taint the rest of my experiences with humans. Here's the column I wrote right after it happened.

Advancing Wins the War, Smashing Fear to Smithereens

I will win this war — the war I am fighting internally with fear as the enemy.

I read in the paper several days ago about a rash of home burglaries taking place in a subdivision not too far from mine. I made an extra effort to check my doors that morning and made a mental note to think about other ways to ensure the safety of my home.

That evening when I came home from work, I opened the garage door and noticed something amiss as soon as I drove inside. The door from the garage to the kitchen stood open. I walked out of the garage and checked my front door. Unlocked.

While I worked to earn a living, in broad daylight, thieves knocked a crowbar through the window of my study and made themselves at home with my belongings.

Today I struggle to fight the fear that edges its way up my spine and tickles my ears. They stole from me something more important than my television set and stereo.

They stole my sense of safety in my own home. That’s an act of terrorism hard to shake.

I woke this morning with the words of my favorite U.S. President ringing in my ears. Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke these words during his first inaugural address in 1933 to assuage the upheaval caused by the severe economic depression gripping the country.

“. . . the only thing we have to fear is fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance,” FDR said to comfort the citizens of this country.

The police and friends tell me, “The chances of them coming back are slim.” I know this, yet fear lingers. Last night I came home and once again the door was ajar into my kitchen. I decided I must have left the door open when I raced out for work in the morning. Nonetheless I entered my house armed with a shovel and a weed whacker, with that cold, “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror” pulling at my brain with every step.

For days, I swept and swept only to find more pieces of shrapnel in other rooms of the house. The glass still pricks my feet and sparkles in the light of my Christmas tree. And every sound outside and inside the house gives me pause. I pick shrapnel out of my heart as well.

But I am alive and those who stole are not. They are the ones to be pitied, not me. However, I am at risk of allowing my fear to cause me to retreat rather than advance. I could now become what others paralyzed with fear have become: victims of that fear.

A few days I ago I went to the store to purchase locks — locks for every conceivable entry to my house. As I went through the self-check out aisle, a young man, obviously come upon hard times, stood behind me. He laid a small bag of cookies on the conveyor belt. He held a one-dollar bill in his hand.

“Do you have fifteen cents?” he asked.

Fear crept up my back and surrounded my skull. I turned away from him, ready to ignore his question. Then I stopped and looked at him and saw the humanity in his eyes. I told him to wait a second. I wanted to finish my purchases and put away my debit card.

Then I reached inside my purse for the small compartment where I keep one-dollar bills. I pulled one out.

“Here you go. I don’t have any coins,” I said.

He smiled broadly. “Thank you. Now I can get a can of soda, too. Thank you so much.”

I advanced out of the store, feeling I had conquered some unnamed enemy. I looked behind me several times to be sure I had been correct in trusting this young man who simply needed a hand that day. Shedding fear and distrust does not mean being oblivious and stupid.

Just because a couple of cowardly thieves broke into my house does not mean that every stranger I meet on the street might do the same. Maybe if someone had trusted those thugs or treated them with kindness one day, they would have taken a different course in their life.

I do not know the trials that brought them to the lowest rung on the feeding chain.

I do know they will not rule my life nor will I step back down the ladder to their rung. But I will look ahead without fear.