Grace Notes
A hopeful newspaper column ~ by Natalie Costanza-Chavez
About Fear > Scary Veggies and the Koran
Scary Veggies and the Koran

Grace-Notes #36 –Sunday 9/24
Scary Veggies

Up and down Interstate 25, just off the rickety road that runs north from Denver straight up into Wyoming, corn fields grow and grow. One moment the stalks are eyebrow high to a small child, the next hat-brim high to an adult. Soon comes the time of corn mazes, Halloween scaries, and things that go bump-in-the-night.

Wait. What’s that noise? A slight wind. The stalks are moving. Something is coming toward you. Evil-doing itches at the edges of the field.

Jump up! Look around! Don’t sit back. Stay alert.

Boo!

Carnival-made shiver willies in a haunted corn field are one thing.

But playing Halloween with the rest of our lives? Living each year, especially election years, watching out for the masked men? Always feeling the fright of the eek-ooo’s, the jimjams, and the spookies? That’s a different thing entirely.

Sure, we live in a dangerous time full of new-fangled ways to hurt each other – just as our grandparents did, and their grandparents, and theirs, and theirs. You can probably trace it all the way back to a stone axe.

But, peeking from under a dark and daily shroud of dooms-day anticipation is not the way to live our lives.

Lately there’s a certain persistent point of view peppering down on us. And I don’t like it. It says that, like children playing “sneak-up and pounce,” we should be crouching and armed with weapons, heads on a swivel, scanning for doom-scenarios unfolding, doom-causers enacting, doom’s-days fast approaching. It says hold our children close and be afraid. It says make our shopping habits, our travel plans, and our voting decisions based on fear.

It says the attitude of fear suits us and will keep us safe.

It’s starting to feel pervasive. Each time I turn, I hear more of it and it’s getting under my skin.

Sometimes a corn filed is just a corn field.

As a matter of fact, very often a corn field is just a corn field.

Even if you live no where near a corn field, but closer to concrete and bridges and harbors roomy enough for the big freighters with stacks as high as water tanks, a corn field can still be just a corn field. A bridge, a bridge. A harbor, a harbor.

A crowded subway can be a ride to work.

A tall building can be a breath-catching view, a tourist attraction, a monument inspiring pride.

A dark-skinned man reading the Koran can simply be a man reading his book of faith, with a clear head, a pure heart and a conviction as honest and searching as your own.

A woman in a head scarf can be opinionated, smart, and full of her own choices to make – just like you.

So, enough of the eeek-ooo’s

We navigate a daily grind of real and present dangers. Heck, as of last week, spinach could kill you.

But, you know what? Most vegetables aren’t out to get us.

And you know what else? Most people are good. Certainly there will always be some bad ones lurking around – as there always have been. Remember Timothy McVeigh? We grew him up here.

But, most of us are sane and decent and full of hope on our best days. Most of us are perfectly pleased to inhabit the land of the living for as long as we can.

We have to have some faith in each other or we’ll miss too much while we spend our time living in fear and suspicion.

This world has always been boo-scary and worse. We need to keep a healthy dose of “So what? Move on. Don’t dwell” handy – like daily vitamins.

Reporters and politicians and speakers that belabor us with threats of danger can scare us silly and at times have all sorts of things to gain from our fear. But, try to hold on and hold out for the sane point of view.

Living in fear is something we’ve tried to fight since we became America. Let’s not go backward. Most of us, world-wide – people of all and every religion, race, and ethnicity – deserve good will. And trust. As hard as it may be ----rise to the challenge of it. We will all be stronger.