What I am afraid of

What I am afraid of

At last count I have 63 notes inside my phone. Most of them are haphazardly labeled like this: column ideas, movies to watch, bridal shower ideas, books to read, Mexican recipe ideas. I tuck so much information into those notes that I forget to scroll to the bottom and see what ideas I wrote down long ago.

Things like “there’s always something” and “difference is a place where God is found” or “Mexico is like Minecraft.” Bits and fragments that I’m consistently writing, jotting and then ciphering, even if I forget the context or meaning I was after.

One sliver of an idea stuck out to me today as I browsed my column idea note. It said, “What are you afraid of?” I let it gel with my thoughts for a moment and decided that my fears of the day could merit a few written words.

I’m not a fearful person. If you know me, you know I’m practical as well. I’m usually the calm person during a tornado warning, and I was the one to ride shotgun while our kids were learning to drive. So even though I’m not an anxious personality, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that trouble me. Fair warning — here’s what I’m “afraid” of.

I believe we’ve lost compassion and empathy for one another — tender feeling and understanding, respectively. It’s a hardening of the heart, so to speak, that has emerged along with heavy social media usage. Or maybe it’s been the ability to share in other’s pain through the matrix that we’ve lost physical and vocal touch with others. I do believe in the internet’s ability to bring us closer, but also to drive us apart — to not have face-to-face, in-person encounters because we “see each other on the interwebs.”

Let’s not pretend this isn’t true. I can’t say empathy shown online doesn’t translate in person, but it does allow us to move on quickly — quicker than if it was in person.

Along this vein, I believe we’ve lost the ability to communicate with those we disagree with. Somehow we’ve been sliced to the core, narrow slivers of ourselves no longer resembling the whole. I said earlier I am a practical person, and I also am a person with views and ideas that may differ from the area I reside in.

That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be able to have a conversation, that might veer into sensitive topics, with someone I know holds a differing view, that I need to keep my views quiet so as not to ruffle feathers.

Diversity is a gift, not a reason to dislike someone, and we’ve somewhat lost the ability to hold conversation without viewing others in the light their beliefs put them in. As a white American woman, there is so much more for me to learn, and I would hope my hard-won views and leanings could be passed on without ridicule as well.

Speaking of being ridiculed, I’d also champion a reading of the Mueller Report. I’ve heard that those who ignore its existence, deciding it means nothing, have been surprised by what it contains. My fear is that when we dismiss what we’ve been told to dismiss, we miss lots of good information. I’ve read it. You should too.

My closing fear, and by far the worst one I hold, is we’ve lost the ability to make a good coney dog, as well as why tater tots have disappeared from the menus of most dariettes. Why are cheese sticks now at every dairy? Bring back the tots!

I pine for the Berlin Dairy and the goodness of their foot-long coney, a sprinkling of onions, and a side of tater tots. I’ve chatted with friends online about the dearth of good local chili dogs and our inability to recreate the best.

We mourn and mourn and gnash our teeth. I order them wherever tiny remote dariettes can be found, and nothing holds a candle to the one I grew up with. I am sorry to whoever believes a sweet coney sauce is the answer.

What are your biggest fears? Send them to me at junkbabe68@gmail.com and I might compile them into another column. Empathy, good-natured pushback, compassion, tolerance, lively conversation and love are the biggest gifts we can give to others. I’d like to share in your fears and have you share in mine, coming together somewhere in the middle despite our differences.

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