The Fear of Weiner Dogs


Because the immediate future does not look very perfect, there is a lot of palpable fear around these days.  There is a lot less use of the future perfect tense theses days.  Fear generally should be written about in the future tense.  Fear of the Lord is written about since the time of the Torah.  Fear almost always involves the future, sometimes the present, and never the past. 


Fear was a lot like the people I knew.  Once you knew someone, there was, more times than not, nothing to fear.  Now if you knew the people in charge, and had done nothing wrong, that is.  The majority would seem to agree that the fear for the next 6 weeks was about the people in charge.  I was fearful about the affect on bailouts.  And more bailouts. 


Fear and failure go hand in hand.  If you never have failed at anything, you might not understand.  But self-fear is the worst fear, something that grows over time.  It was the fear of the aged when they can no longer care for themselves.  Maybe that was the fear around today.  A fear we can no longer care for ourselves. 


Since I was 12 years old, I took great pride that we had one of the best lawns on the block.  I cared for that lawn.  My grades then were always splendid, though in college I should have studied harder.  Years later, I was always proud of my work product.  I have worked with people whose thinking, whose work, I wondered about.  Often the innocent were pulled down with the guilty.      


Joe the plumber seems symbolic of the past few months.  He was someone who actually could fix something.  Like all those financial leaks on Wall Street.  How in a democratic country could taxpayers be asked to provide financing for all those private Wall Street ship repairs?  The ones that should have been allowed to sink. 


Faith & values:  the interconnection.  For the past 15 years the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has had a Faith & Values section of the newspaper.  On Saturdays.  So did the Charlotte Observer.  Karl Marx is credited with calling religion the opium of the masses.  Whether it was the value of your home, where you kept your money, there always was faith that it would be there when you went to get it, went to sell it.  Suddenly, belief if not faith was being challenged.   This was all an illusion? 


Values.  Based upon a faith.  Maintaining value was the basis of the current crisis.  That and forgiveness.  As in debt forgiveness.  I heard following a curling match that the values in my neighborhood aren’t falling.  Yet. 


I heard a piece on NPR about a teen-age kid sailing alone around the world.  So far he has learned that once every 3 days there is a storm in the Pacific.  From one storm he just met in the Indian Ocean, he also has gotten acquainted with his God.  I think with all the fear around, we were all going to get better acquainted in 2009 with God.


Belief.  Fear.  The religious leaders I knew never really preached fire and brimstone.  I think it was because they weren’t strangers to this God.  And their knowledge reflected a certain amount of understanding.  Like in the old days when most politics was local, when candidates had to look for support from around here, when the newspaper was locally owned, when we were all pretty familiar with each other.  The world seemed a lot friendlier then.  People never had as much money, but there also was a lot less fear.  True value never really fluctuated, and you never could put a price on it. 


As a young kid, I had a fear about dogs.  Big ones anyway.  And weiner dogs.  Until I got to know them.  Then my fear evaporated.  Except of weiner dogs.  Fear almost always involves the future, sometimes the present, and never the past.  Except of weiner dogs. 

Larry Gillick


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