Terrorist Warnings Be Damned.

Posted on October 6, 2010

High alert, red alert, the British are coming, man the torpedos and the barbarian is at the gate…. Obviously, down through history there have been warnings of extreme danger.  So it seems that to be free from them, one either has to travel to another habitable planet or find some refuge within one’s self.  This week a convicted “terrorist” in New York yelled out that the war with Islam had begun.  This week, too, our own government issued travel and other warnings about that same subject.  There is no getting away from it.  And of course the media loves it.

The US in the 1950s and early 60s was like Disney World.  Yes there was terrible racial injustice – there still is and yes there were ongoing wars but in the minds and lives of young middle-class Americans, life (aside from personal tragedy)  was worry-free and easy.  The music of this era, the look and feel of it all continue to be the fall back position for those who want to remember the very best  living American’s  could attain.  Better than that, Americans deserved it after their struggles through WWII.

During those years, finding the right boyfriend, the right used car and the right petticoat (aka crinolines)  to wear under a large, unmanageable and static-filled cotton skirt – all were major undertakings.  The film Bye-Bye Birdie perfectly pointed to the juxtaposition of  living the fantasy vs the real world.

There was one deep wound in the society:  a war fueled by a draft.  But as in a Jane Austen novel, it was not the focus of the action but was made a palatable part of the story.  Conrad Birdie, great rock star, was being drafted and women were in a swoon.  This was the worst thing in their lives that they could imagine.


Bye Bye Birdie ends with a “too bad, Conrad” kind of song from the seductive Ann Margaret.  Tragedy averted.

America at that time was in a deep coma.  We were unaware of the rising tide of anger against the so-called imperial powers.  We had put Asia in its place during WWII so what harm could Korea or Viet-Nam do even if these were proxy wars?

Today, the terrorist warnings are no more nor less horrific than those of our own government.  Both factions want to scare us.  Newsflash.  As the opening sentences here attest, the barbarian has always been at the gate.  All order in the universe can be quashed at any moment.  So how are you going to live your life?  Ask the Brits who survived the terror of the blitz; ask the American Indians whose ancestors recounted the pain on the trail of tears, ask Marie Antoinette as she paused at the Guillotine – they will all tell you it can be over in a minute.  Chaos, inhumanity – they are always just under the surface – yours and mine.

Live your life.  Forget the headlines.  Keep a little food and water by as you would for a winter storm but don’t change the fabric of  your being.  You are in charge of that, not the terrorists.  Take a page from Bye, Bye Birdie.  Ramp up the fantasy and put the brakes on reality enough in  your life that it will be tolerable.  We have been given this capability for a reason.  The power of the imagination has always been an anecdote to the raw moments of reality.  Let it be.  Read that book.  Laze in the haze of a golden fall day.  ALLOW yourself to be taken away for a time.  Just don’t take all of the pages from Bye, Bye Birdie and live full-time in fantasy land.  You don’t need to and you wouldn’t want to.  That’s where intelligence takes over.

©On My Watch…the writings of SamHenry.  Registration Pending.