About 18 years ago, when we were fairly new to North Idaho, our neighbors invited us to attend an Independence Day fireworks display at a casino located along a rural stretch of highway. It had the air of an outdoor party. Thousands of cars and trucks were haphazardly parked on both pavement and in fields. Friends, family and neighbors congregated together, with lots of tailgate music and impromptu picnics. When dusk came and the fireworks display started, we lay down on blankets in the grass and watched a dazzling display of lights almost literally overhead: massive, awe-inspiring and probably dangerous (with cinders raining down on us).
We attended this event several years in a row. It was something we always looked forward to. But every year it became just a little less enjoyable.
First, the fireworks themselves were removed to a safer distance. (Couldn’t criticize that, really.) Next, vehicles were restricted to paved areas only. OK, I kinda get that too. The last straw, however, was the year incoming vehicles were rigidly directed to park in THIS slot, and THIS slot only. Friends and neighbors were not permitted to park next to each other; they were directed to THIS slot, and people were required to move or leave if they disobeyed.
When it came time to depart after the fireworks display was over, it took – literally – over an hour to leave the parking lot because vehicles were required to leave in a very precise order, allegedly to avoid gridlock. Well, it was gridlock anyway. I remember feeling like a sitting duck. What if something happened that required rapid evacuation? We would never make it.
That was the year my husband and I looked at each other and said, “Never again.” To the best of my knowledge, that is the last time we’ve been in a large crowd.
It’s no accident that my husband and I, as a couple of introverts, live on a small farm in the extreme backwater of rural Idaho. We have no interest in attending concerts, seeing a movie in a theater, sitting through another fireworks display, or otherwise packing ourselves cheek-by-jowl with our fellow humans. Even our church is very, very small.
This growing aversion to large crowds was solidified during the 2017 music festival shooting in Las Vegas in which a deranged gunman sprayed over 1,000 rounds of ammunition into the dense crowds, killing 60 people and injuring over 400.
Nope nope nope.
Enochlophobia is the fear of large crowds. I have no such phobia. Instead, I find myself with a growing aversion to people. It’s sad, isn’t it, to increasingly dislike the pinnacle of God’s creation?
Up to this point the decision to avoid crowded places was strictly personal and based very much on having an introverted nature. Now, however, the same recommendation is being made by no less an official source than the Department of Homeland Security.
In a June 7 release, the DHS stated: “In the coming months, DHS expects the threat environment to become more dynamic as several high-profile events could be exploited to justify acts of violence against a range of possible targets. These targets could include public gatherings, faith-based institutions, schools, racial, ethnic, and religious minorities, government facilities and personnel, U.S. critical infrastructure, the media, and perceived ideological opponents.”
So let me get this straight: The government itself is warning people that public gatherings are too dangerous. Not that this is any skin off my teeth; I’ll happily stay home – but that’s a personal choice, not a national recommendation.
In fact, having everyone stay home increasingly seems to be a preferred government tactic, something exploited on an international scale in 2020. If people are home, they’re not gathering to worship, gathering to recreate, gathering to protest. Instead they’re being good little obedient serfs, unable to meet up with anyone of like mind. It’s the ultimate divide-and-conquer strategy.
Events or services that have taken place for anywhere from years to centuries – church, shopping, concerts, fireworks, fairs, schools, stores, etc. – are now dangerous places we must avoid.
Yet ironically, it’s the government itself that is encouraging violence and hysteria, in at least two different ways: One, by tacitly approving of violent leftist demonstrations (2020’s subject: police brutality; this year’s subject: abortion; next year’s subject: who knows?); and two, by refusing to prosecute anyone on the left caught in a crime, no matter how heinous, while Jan. 6 political prisoners continue to rot in jail for the felony of taking a selfie in the Capitol building.
Sen. Rand Paul, who was victimized by a crazed attacker a few years ago, accused the Democrats and the White House of encouraging protests outside the homes of justices, despite that being against the law. “The White House steadfastly refused to condemn people outside of [Supreme Court justices’] houses,” he said. “That is not peaceful protest. That is ginning up and encouraging, and intimidating the justices should not be allowed.”
It was inevitable that a heavily armed (leftist) man was arrested near Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh’s home after making credible threats. The left is full of unhinged lunatics; did the DHS really think “inviting” protests over abortion would be peaceful? As columnist Kevin Downey Jr. put it, “It seems the Democrats kinda sorta want a conservative justice to get killed.”
Yet it’s conservatives who are accused of being violent because they support the Second Amendment. Go figure.
Now the government is trying to cultive more hysteria by citing the potential for a mass casualty event on top of policies they themselves encouraged (defunding police, refusing to prosecute crimes, etc.).
While staying home is my ultimate ideal, clearly that cannot and should not apply to everyone. So my advice is this: Don’t live scared. Don’t let the bleepers get you down. Go out and live a full life, regardless of how much the DHS tries to intimidate you.
Our plans this Independence Day weekend include doing things to contribute toward an independent lifestyle: canning some food and working on farm improvement projects. These seem as good a way as any to celebrate our nation’s independence … and we don’t have to see anyone either. Win-win.
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