Until recently, I’ve always felt safe in the South. Instead of staying out of each other’s business, we make it a point to know one another, which creates a feeling of security. We make eye contact, then smile and say hello when we pass on the streets. We carry chicken casseroles to sleepy parents with new babies, plastic Cool-Whip bowls full of homemade soup to a friend who is down with the flu, and we welcome new folks to town with the obligatory invitation to visit our church.
But for the first time ever, I’ve felt the chill of fear creep into my own Southern home.
All of us have watched helplessly as terrorism has crossed the ocean to first grab New York City, then waft its stench into every neighborhood, rural farm and mountaintop home in America. We’re now infected coast-to-coast with worry that keeps us awake at night.
Lately, when I hear sirens, I don’t automatically think a parade is coming through town. Like many of you, if I hear a commotion now, a knot forms in my stomach and I worry about the children at school or those shopping downtown.
I was surprised, when I recently caught myself searching for the exits at the local movie theater, then flinching when someone entered after the film had begun. In familiar restaurants, I’ve started scanning the faces of people I don’t recognize and wondering who they are.
How can our homespun communities suddenly be infiltrated by fear? We’re the friendly region of the country, where people linger and laugh with neighbors on . . . click HERE to read the rest of the story.