What to do in a world of fear

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 18, 2008

So, apparently it wasn’t the tomatoes in the library with the candlestick.

I’m sorry, let’s try this again. So apparently it wasn’t the tomatoes that caused the salmonella outbreak that sickened more than 1,200 people in the United States.

Since the outbreak started in April, it has cost the food industry an estimated $100 million and there are probably thousands of people all over that have vowed never to pick up a tomato again.

You have to admit when Americans get scared we have a tendency to turn into proverbial scaredy cats.

Fear has a monopoly in the United States. Sorry, I don’t know why I keep on referencing board games.

If you disagree, take a look around. From the current economic situation to homeland security to the food we buy, we are never in need for something to be apprehensive about.

On the economic front, just watching any current or reading news source makes one want to withdraw all their money from the bank and invest in a wall safe.

With the failure of the Indymac Bank (which is now being investigated by the FBI), “rumors” and speculation of other banks collapsing are abundant.

Naturally there are the images of hundreds people waiting outside Indymac seeing if they can withdraw their money.

On a 24-hour news channel I was watching the other day, an analyst, with cords and veins popping out of his neck, warned bank customers to watch their money and that bank officials are lying about their businesses not being in trouble.

Wow, he really couldn’t find a silver lining there.

Is it just me, or did the world seem a little less frightening before September 11, 2001.

I was only 19, so maybe that added to the naivety. But there was a definite change in the United States after 9-11.

Then came the fears of terrorists, war and flying on airplanes.

And, of course, there was Bin Laden with his series of grainy, poor quality home videos and threats, and then the guessing game of is he alive or is he dead, all of which still exists to this day.

Who could forget Homeland Security’s Terrorist Threat Level with its different colors that made us think we were all watching an evil version of “Sesame Street.”

Our airports were reduced to specially constructed security mazes filled with bare footed passengers scuffling through metal detectors.

While sometimes our fears of all of these topics are valid, other times we are the victims of our own mass hysteria. And then there are the times when we are victims of our country’s leaders own hysteria.

It’s tough to make level headed choices now days and it’s even harder to trust the information given to you.

While the tomatoes have been cleared to be cut up and enjoyed once again, the Food and Drug Administration is looking at hot peppers as the culprit in the salmonella outbreak.

Just when one fear is over another has reared its ugly head.

Excuse me while I find my Xanax.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: amanda.vanderbroek@r-cnews.com or call (252) 332-7209.