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The Need to Feel Safe is a Bottomless Pit

A letter-writer responds to someone who suggests cutting the military budget to better satisfy “domestic needs”:

Personally, I have a domestic need, as most other people do, to feel safe within my own country, unafraid of attack from without – and filling that need is not without cost.

Too right that is. According to the War Resisters’ League analysis of the federal budget, 48% of the federal budget is spent directly or indirectly on the U.S. military. Military costs take a huge bite out of the American budget. American levels of military spending are unmatched around the world: the U.S. spends nearly eight times more on its military than any other country on Earth. The United States has enough nuclear warheads to turn every other nation on the planet into the semblance of Swiss Cheese.

The letter writer speaks of feeling safe within his own country. Is he really safe? Not one of us is completely safe: life is a postponed death sentence. We’re all headed for destruction one way or another. It’s possible to speak of relative safety from attack, and compared to other countries the United States is quite safe. India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, Sri Lanka, Liberia and Uganda have suffered under attacks much more serious than any attacks on the United States. Per capita deaths from attacks on U.S. soil are miniscule. Death rates from malnutrition in America are much, much higher than death rates from attacks on the United States.

But the letter-writer nailed the issue on the head: his need isn’t for real security from attack. His need is to feel safe. His need is not to be afraid. But there is no number of weapons that can take away fear. There is no military budget that can make someone feel safe. Humans have large imaginations and a great capacity for fear that can be stoked by theater as much as by reality. As long as television stations and movie theaters and newspapers tell us how unsafe we are, and as long as politicians take to the microphone and tell us how much we have to fear an attack, we will be afraid and we will feel unsafe.

My advice to the writer of that letter: if you want to feel safe, if you want feel unafraid of attack, stop tuning in to the people who are stuffing fear and insecurity into your ears. Turn off your FOX News. Go outside. Look up at the sky. Pick a flower.

By gum, that doesn’t cost a thing.

10 thoughts on “The Need to Feel Safe is a Bottomless Pit”

  1. Tomas says:

    I really like people like you…you folk are the the ones that stop the first round of bullets coming in…giving me time to return fire….

    1. Jim says:

      Wow, Tomas! Your use of the present tense is astounding. It means that you have personally repelled an invasion of our country.

      When and where was that, exactly? The great Albuquerque Massing of 1988? The Atlantic City Invasion of 1993? Or the Las Vegas Tower Defense of 2005?

      Like the letter writer, you suffer from the feeling that this country is under military attack. It will help you and your therapist to recognize that this feeling is not the same thing as reality.

    2. qs says:

      Why not let a nationalist do that sort of thing? They volunteer for it.

  2. Tom says:

    Yeah, Tomas, and you can pile up our dead carcasses as protection too!

    What a wonderful world-view you have . . .

    1. F.G. Fitzer says:

      I’m sorry, but what dead carcasses? What first round of bullets? I’m looking around me, and there are no dead bodies and no bullets.

      Are you really so far into this cult of fear that you are hallucinating a foreign invasion where there is none? Far out. Can you legally sell that on the street? Sounds like a real trip.

  3. Tomas says:

    I like the double standard…Progressives speak figuratively it’s poetic and discriptive, a nuance. When a non-progressive speaks figuratively…it isn’t anything but the hard core cold factuality of the statement. You folk don’t do sarcasm well…either in delivery nor acceptance. And you wonder why your numbers are tossed off by the politicans and avewrage folk as fools pissing in the wind.

    1. Jim says:

      But that’s the whole point, Tomas. The whole point is that in order for you to justify the national security hysteria, you have to make an appeal to invasions that do not exist. You can’t make your argument any way but figuratively, because really it’s all about your figgerin’ and not about reality. You’re stuck in poetry because you can’t credibly say what you’re saying as non-fiction.

    2. F.G. Fitzer says:

      When progressives speak figuratively, it’s done to encourage peace, and to help people calm their fears. When the Department of Homelandia and its followers speak figuratively, it’s to encourage fear and fighting.

      But, now you’re admitting, Tomas, that there are no dead bodies, and that there will be no bullets – that what you fear is only figurative, and that these wars and the Homeland Security mania are in cold factuality, unnecessary.

  4. Steve says:

    This was the best thing I’ve read in weeks. Concise and exactly to the point. Statistically, even with all the wars and violence we hear about, we’re living through the safest period in human history. Americans have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than killed in an attack by a foreign enemy, yet we’re all running around like the sky is falling. Turn off the TV! Fear sells and we’re buying it in bushels.

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