Thursday, January 19, 2012

Paranoia, Fear and the 60's

My take-away from reflecting upon the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the recognition that during the 1960's the United States was full of paranoia.

I watched a television special about Dr. King and his life while home on the holiday and was struck by the level of paranoia that seemed to be everywhere believing that our way of life was going to evaporate by giving all races the inalienable rights to which they were endowed by our Creator.

From my study of history, I know that the U.S. was paralyzed with fear about communism, Cuba, and the bomb. We became involved in Vietnam to deter the domino theory--which never panned out.

Paranoia--pure and simple. Our way of life was at risk if we submitted to rational thinking.

The 60's were a time when we, as a people and a society, were filled with fear.

I could not believe the fear that caused the State of Alabama to deploy the State Police to stop the march from Selma to Montgomery. And use violence against the marchers.

I was appalled at the violence and the bigotry.

I wonder if we are any better now, some almost 40 years later. We are afraid of muslims and the Taliban. And the Chinese and the Russians and the Pakistanis and the Mexican drug cartels.

Every generation it seems, brings a particular paranoia with it.

I wonder, why can't we just be friends. I found new hope in the phrase "We shall overcome." Hopefully, we can overcome the paranoia and the fear that keeps us from being brothers and sisters.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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