Friday, February 29, 2008

Be afraid

When I was a kid we lived in a little town in south Louisiana called Zachary. We lived in a small neighborhood just off of the highway, maybe 30 houses in all. No one in the neighborhood had a fence, all the dogs ran wild, and every yard had huge cabbage weeds. By today's standards, or at least the standards of Florida, that old neighborhood would be considered low rent white trash. (By Louisiana standards it was Beverly Hills, mainly because of the indoor plumbing.)

One of the things that is unique about homes in Louisiana is that many of them don't have garages. Instead, they have a carport. When I was growing up we left our bikes under the carport. We left the lawn mower there too. In fact, I don't really think we even locked our doors very often. Being robbed just wasn't something that we thought about.

Once I was older and living in a house with a regular garage it would never occur to me to leave the garage door open. If I went to bed at night and then realized that I'd left the garage door open, I wouldn't be able to go to sleep until I had gotten up and shut that door. Then, once I got an electronic garage door opener it became vital that I lock the door as well. Our new house has an alarm system. I rarely leave the house without setting the alarm and, just like the garage door, I'll get up in the middle of the night to make sure that I've turned it on.

My point is, I don't witness more crime or hear about more crime now than I have at any other time in my life. The house we lived in six months ago didn't have an alarm system and yet I felt perfectly safe. The house before that one didn't have a garage and yet I wasn't afraid my lawnmower would be stolen in the middle of the night.

It makes me wonder about the nature of fear. It seems the more you protect yourself the more afraid you are that you're going to need protecting. I don't own a gun, I won't have one in my home, but I think I understand people who do own guns and their reluctance to give them up. I'm sure that if I had one I would absolutely feel uneasy if it was no longer there. I have always said that gun owners who claim they need to gun for protection are living with an irrational fear, but now that I think about it, so am I.

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