War! Or something like that…

So I woke up this morning to the news that we were at war with North Korea.

Okay, I’m being hyperbolic, but not as much as you might think. It started with a Twitter message I received from Maui News reporter Ilima Loomis: “Oops! Lanai beach mistakenly evacuated over N. Korean missile threat!” The message then linked to this unbylined News article reporting how Four Seasons Resort officials on the island of Lanai got confused yesterday and actually told tourists to move inland because they thought a North Korean missile was going to hit the beach.

How the hell did this happen? How is this even believable?

Let me take a stab at it: we the people of the United States of America–the most powerful nation in the history of the world–are scared shitless. That’s not at all surprising, considering how much hear the word “threat” these days. It’s a constant refrain, starting with TV news anchors and working all the way down to our elected leaders.

North Korean missiles are a threat. Al Qaeda is a threat. A resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan is a threat. The Chinese navy is a threat. Legalized marijuana is a threat. Gay marriage is a threat. And on, and on, and on.

This nation currently possesses, according to this report from Nuclearweaponarchive.org, 5,736 active nuclear weapons of all types. That’s a lot of weapons–enough to destroy the entire world and every living thing on it, oh, at least once, which is all that really matters. We keep them, as the old theory goes, to “protect” ourselves from all the various threats we keep hearing about every damn day.

This theory, as the people on Lanai know only too well, looks really good on paper but performs pretty lousy in day-to-day living. But it doesn’t work, and people are scared all over, because (in my opinion) they’re constantly told to be scared. This is what government does best: Republican or Democrat, it governs by fear. A frightened people are a docile people, less apt to question what government is doing with their tax money and their children who don uniforms.

UPDATE: According to this Los Angeles Times story, even though the North Korean missile launched on April 5 apparently failed to put a satellite (much less anything else) into orbit, U.S. officials still say it shows “disturbing progress” and, thus, we civilians should probably still live in fear of it and continue to support American military and intelligence efforts to counteract the “threat” it poses. Seriously: was there any outcome to this missile test that wouldn’t have resulted in our top brass getting “clearly more worried” about North Korea, which, the last time I checked, was one of the poorest nations on Earth?

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