Senior Stories

Has the Tragedy Changed Your Life? Will It?

AND NOW YOU CAN ASK, “DID IT?”

Just Count The Ways…

Is it just me? I have nightmares now.

Heck, since the horror of 9/11, for the first time in my life I have difficulty sleeping. I wake at 4:00 or 5:00 each morning, unwilling or unable to return to sleep.

Last night while I slept, I literally kicked my wife Carolyn out of bed. Like a dog dreaming, my legs lashed out all over our king-sized bed, forcing Carolyn to the living room couch.

Often these days I find myself crying.

Right out of the blue.

No reason.

And there’s always this vague apprehension about. I feel it deep inside, down where the heart and mind connect. It’s a feeling that asks, “When is the other shoe going to drop?”

I wasn’t going to write about this. Suddenly Senior is supposed to be humorous, in theory if not always in fact.

9/11 Redux

But I don’t find much funny these days — as New Yorkers continue digging for body parts, as innocent folks die of anthrax poisoning, and as a perhaps unwinnable war develops on the horizon.

Judging from my e-mail, seniors all across our country are feeling impotent, apprehensive, and disheartened.

We, who have lived through The Depression, WW II, and a host of troubles and wars since then, suffer for the first time in our long lives a failure of faith in the security of America.

It’s little wonder we’re gloomy and confused.

We now know: It can happen here!

Our eyes are clouded with grief for those thousands of innocents dead in New York and Washington, in Kabul and Jerusalem, too. We’re beginning to understand how folks in Israel and Ireland and China and Indonesia — people all over the world — live their entire lives in dread, never knowing for sure if they will see day’s end.

Terrorism does that to a people. It’s doing it to us.

Overreacting?

In the last three weeks, there have been but three deaths from anthrax. During those same three weeks 23,077 died from smoking-related causes and 971 from murder. There were 3,674 flu-related fatalities. We probably have a better chance of getting struck by lightening than being exposed to anthrax, but that fact holds no emotional water.

We’re scared

Although many still find it hard to get our minds around the horror of September 11th, as seniors we know better than any what America lost on that clear September morn.

The pain that today runs so deep will eventually fade. But for now, much of life’s sweetness is gone, replaced by hate, revenge, and fear of Fascist, women-hating thugs.

Let’s not allow it get the best of us.

Most of us seniors have lived long enough to understand that in times like this we can be a greater danger to Democracy than any enemy.

George Kennan, author of the term “Cold War” and creator of the original Soviet containment policy, wrote that fear could turn us “intolerant, secretive, suspicious, cruel, and terrified of internal dissension because we have lost our own belief in ourselves and in the power of our ideals.”

That’s what the terrorists want. For us to become exactly like them. I wonder. Will they succeed?

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