There comes the fear.
Growing up, the nighttime fear was always there, in some shape… vague forms threatening vague harm in the future. No names, no faces. Loneliness, loss, madness. Must stay alone, must not allow people in, must not trust, must not…. be vulnerable. During the day, the fear went receded, although never completely gone.
After I had kids, that became trickier. How to love, how to care, how to trust …. The fear took on a new focus, the loss a new shape — or three shapes. And not only in the nighttime; when a bus was late or someone forgot to call when they went friend A’s house after school, or dropped by friend B’s house on a Saturday coming back from the park.
Somewhere along the line, I learned to let the fear run and not try and hold it to myself. It goes away sooner, and I can get back to the job I’m supposed to do, which is taking care of people. And I learned to let people into my life, into my heart, I learned to trust that the world will hold together.
But lately, the fear is different, and doesn’t go away. I am afraid of a society I see changing around me to something I don’t recognize anymore. The government is lying and spying and far too few people seem to care enough about it to change it. My government — in my name — thinks it is okay to indefinitely hold people with no right to anything even vaguely resembling due process. A president that has argued that, as we are at war, he should be allowed to do any damn thing he wants.
I want to be more politically active, but you know what? I’m too cowardly. My livelihood, as a dependent spouse of a federal civil servant, depends solely upon the good graces of the federal government.
Legally, an individual’s political beliefs — or those of their relatives — are not acceptable grounds for work sanctions. Civil servants are protected from political reprisals. Everyone knows that.
Everyone knew that it was illegal for the government to wiretap phones without a warrant, too.
I am afraid because I see people selling t-shirts which say that people like me should be shot. I am afraid because people like me have been called traitors, and people standing on very big soapboxes — with labels like Fox News and Clear Channel Communications on the side — have said that I don’t deserve to live, that violence against me would be justified. (No, no links — there are too many numerous examples, and it’s too late, and besides, no one is reading this besides me.) And people tell me I should think all of it is funny?
I fear for my country. And not at the hands of outside terrorists, either.
And all the time, not just in the dead of night in my dreams.