Something about a story caught my eye. I don’t usually read Parade. It comes tucked in with my Sunday newspaper. But there it was, a question on the cover asking “What are you afraid of?”
With all of the fear mongering coming from the candidates on a particular side of the political divide, I would think I had a lot to be afraid of. I hear from them that we are being overrun by aliens (and not just the ones from outer space). I’m being told the economy is in ruins now, and will only get worse. Crazed suicide bombers are lurking behind every tree.
I can recognize hyperbole when I see (or hear) it, but what are we really afraid of?
Apparently we all share a fear of walking alone in the dark. Who isn’t afraid of being attacked by zombies? I certainly am, even though I don’t think I’ve ever seen one.
But, aren’t there real things to worry about? What about flying? I’m not afraid of flying. That said, as my flight was on approach to Laguardia, I had an uncomfortable feeling as I looked down at the river where the hero, Scully, made history, landing in the water.
What’s really dangerous
I didn’t give risk a thought driving to the airport. I was at a far greater risk driving than I ever would be flying. I am a frequent driver on a road with three lanes in each direction. The posted speed limit is forty-five mph. It apparently is a suggestion, cars traveling well over the limit, changing lanes, texting, and tailgating like they were NASCAR drivers.
Top causes of accidents (you might call the wrecks): speed-related, distractions like using mobile devices, fatigue, and alcohol-related.
Why are we afraid of flying?
According to Arnold Barnett, a professor of statistics at M.I.T. flying has become so reliable that a traveler could fly every day for 123,000 years before being in a fatal crash, he said.
The number of commercial airliner fatalities is in the hundreds, and that’s worldwide.
. . . . .when it’s far riskier in a car
Many Americans seem to have an irrational fear of flying, yet thousands are killed in U.S. auto accidents in one year:
- 32,719 fatalities per year
- 6 million crashes a year
- 9 million cars destroyed each year
- 9 million people are injured
- An estimated $871 billion per year (871 with nine zeros) is a hefty price to pay.
Our fears on steroids
Just some of the lessons learned while reading the article in Parade.
The steady drumbeat of television and movie stories about serial killers is a distraction. What about terrorist? People are more prone to be harmed by someone they know (as in the case of domestic violence).
People worry about having a heart attack while exercising when they think nothing about the risk of the excessive amount of time holding the TV remote, sitting on the couch.
I’m having a good laugh at the people who are now afraid of gluten. Apparently there are very few individuals who need to avoid gluten and gluten-free products are very necessary, yet I see “gluten-free” messages everywhere I turn. Thanks to the TV doctors that spin their alarming stories.
Yet, how many of those people who now insist on gluten-free food apply the same thinking to high sugar, high calorie, and high-fat diets. “Give me an extra large burger, super size the fries, and diet cola, please.”
What can we control?
If you’re anything like me, airline crashes, ISIS, deranged serial killers, and so many things are not in our control.
We can contribute in a small way to reduce the impact of global warming, for example. But I’m small potatoes compared to huge corporations and countries.
We can make decisions and control what we eat, drink, and how much we exercise. We can choose wisely, not out of irrational fears. If we ignore that advice we might have real things to fear; diabetes, heart disease, lack of mobility and many other consequences.
I’m now trying to deal with things within my control. I want to be as healthy as possible, and as safe as possible. There’s nothing wrong with reasonable precautions.
But here’s something almost guaranteed to be safe
Read. Read a newspaper, read a magazine, read a book, read an e-book, but read. I researched, and the statistical chance of death caused by reading is astronomically off the charts, not.
Warning, side effects of reading may cause harm to ignorance, witlessness, and other forms of unawareness.
By the way, don’t be alarmed if – by reading – you reach a state of informed opinion stage. An educated, informed opinion is a good antidote for letters-to-the-editor regurgitating propaganda, misinformation, if not disinformation.