The Golden Anniversary of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” passed quietly on a warm December 9. I watched it for probably the 49th time and felt bad for Chuck, as Lucy pinpointed his psychiatric condition as “pantophobia”—the fear of everything! Everyone is afraid of something, but according to Lucy, Chuck didn’t discriminate. He was afraid of it all.
After checking the news the following unseasonably warm morning of Saturday, Dec. 12, I heard the daily terrors and learned that the U.S. joined 195 nations in signing the Paris climate accord. The news left it up to me whether to be afraid of the climate-change hoax, the climate-change crisis, an imminent ISIS invasion, ideological friends of NC’s crazy baby warrior, African-American teens wearing hoodies, militarized police officers running amok, or President Obama confiscating my pen knife. In any case the multi-media message was clear: The proper state to live in isn’t North Carolina; it’s fear. According to some the only response to living in fear is to buy a gun—or another gun—just in case. Tomorrow’s terrors will be worse.
I tried to generate enough pantophobia to head to the local gun show, select proper protection, sign up for my concealed carry permit, and hire a tactical trainer. Lucky for every bad gun with a gun, the warm weather, holiday season, signing of the Paris climate accord, and Linus’ narration of Luke’s advice to “fear not,” conspired against that choice. Unlike Charlie Brown, I don’t experience pantophobia. So, instead of restocking our household armory for the apocalypse, my wife and I went for a walk at Ft. Fisher beach. A pod of about five dolphins lazily cruised beyond the gentle break for about a mile with us. I saw a whale spout twice farther offshore.
Eighty degrees in Wilmington in December. I felt like poking Senator Inhofe. “It’s very, very warm out. Unseasonable.” Then I’d throw a bottle of sunscreen his way with a snide, “Catch this!” Of course, that would be nearly as ignorant as tossing a snowball to the president of the senate as evidence against global warming.
It would be nearly as ignorant as folks in Woodland, NC, voting to reject a solar-panel farm, partly because the town’s science teacher fears solar panels could suck up so much of the sun’s energy, plants wouldn’t be able to engage in photosynthesis. It’s encouraging that the town leaders didn’t try to ban photosynthesis itself because of their fear that if left unchecked photosynthesis was just the kind of science-y sounding sin that would lead to more gay marriage.
Well, we’re all afraid of something.
I’m afraid, too. I’m afraid I don’t understand how a person can be so afraid of terrorists that they will buy more guns, suggest bombing a diffusely organized adversary to remain “secure,” yet not exhibit even the slightest concern that our habit of raping our environment is fueling rapid climate change and threatening a whole species. I’m afraid if climate scientists’ dire predictions don’t pan out it will be because we changed our ways—or because science developed more accurate data, modeling,and interpretation. It won’t be because common-sense folks finally uncovered an Illuminati-level conspiracy of poorly funded, well-intentioned weathermen.
I’m afraid we’d have trouble carpet-bombing ISIS munitions factories without evacuating our largest U.S. defense contractors and those of our allies. Last I checked, ISIS is slightly less an industrial powerhouse than the Third Reich or Soviet Union were. Our newest apocalyptic adversary, ISIS, is forced to buy weapons at the “global gun show” (without so much as a background check) from our allies and us.
Maybe because I grew up with “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” I’m not a fan of pantaphobia. Fear is cue; it’s not a cure. If we were living in London during WWII, or at other places and times with more routine threats to life and limb, what would we do? Deport everyone that could possibly be a threat to our security? Stay in bed with our loaded glock, afraid?
I’m optimistic the U.S. will cure our cultural pantophobia and humanity can solve its problems. I’m optimistic we’ll find ways to “hate not,” “quit not” and of course “fear not!”
Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!