Living in Fear

Living in Fear

Joined: November 21st, 2001, 1:08 pm

November 18th, 2003, 5:25 pm #1

I am curious about this topic. I read an article recently about the way we feel about our worlds, and how, in general, we are sold things - everything from government policy to shampoo. Much of what is sold to us plays on our fears.

In the discussion below on crime and punishment, there was one line that mentioned this, and it triggered me to ask you all about it.

Pete said (among many other things, and sorry for picking something out of context):

Now, throwing out sentimentality, what are the real choices? We can, one, live in an atmosphere where our life, our person, and our property are in constant danger from two legged vermin that are coddled by the bleeding hearts -- we have that now and it isn't working.

So here is my question:

Do you live in fear of criminals? Do you feel in 'constant danger'? If so, how does it affect your life? How does it affect daily decisions? And, if you don't mind, where do you live and how does that alter your perceptions of your risk from criminals?


To answer my own questions:

I do not live in any kind of fear of criminals. I live in a middle class neighbourhood in a very large city. I do live mere blocks away from a fairly large grouping of income-supplemented high rises where I am told teenage gangs run rampant, but it does not affect my daily life at all. I still forget to lock the door at times. In 20+ years in this neighbourhood, I have had one break-and-enter in my house and one theft from my car (both years ago now). My husband's office, also in this neighbourhood, has also had all of one break-and-enter in all that time. I have no fear of walking my streets, here or in the downtown. My cottage life has been even less disturbed by criminal behaviour.

Now I am aware of people that live in fear. I know women who cannot go to sleep at night when their husbands are not home until they have triple-checked the several alarm systems they feel compelled to own (despite living in the same sort of neighbourhood as me). I have always assumed they were conditioned to paranoia, to be truthful.

So....what about the rest of you? How do you live?
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Joined: March 5th, 2001, 7:01 pm

November 18th, 2003, 6:00 pm #2

Hi,

Many of us are afraid of "fear". It implies a weakness, a lack of self confidence. We commonly deny our fears. We make fun of the fears of others ("I know women who cannot go to sleep at night when their husbands are not home until they have triple-checked the several alarm systems they feel compelled to own" very much has the feeling of "what fools they are".)

Change the word from "fear" to "awareness" and it becomes possible to discuss this in a rational manner. I live in a reasonably safe neighborhood in a subdivision that has only one entrance (thus no through traffic). The crime rate there is low. I usually keep my doors locked (as the saying goes, to keep honest people out) but anyone wanting to get in would only be deterred for a second. I often leave the doors unlocked when I go out for a walk, and while walking I'll as likely as not be woolgathering and pretty well unaware of my surroundings. Awareness level, very low.

Now, when I'm in downtown Seattle, my awareness level goes up a bit. I keep my eyes on a swivel. I keep track of what is going on around me. I don't expect someone to pick my pocket, but (unlike in my neighborhood walks) I don't totally disregard the possibility either. I'm more likely to run into a drug addict or a mentally unstable person downtown, and the unpredictability of these people's actions adds a degree of tension. Time of day also makes a big difference, with the morning being most relaxed and the tension heightening after dark. So, while I do not avoid downtown at all, I am more aware there than at home.

For about seven years, I worked in one of the worse (i.e., highest crime) neighborhoods in the Seattle area. Driving through it was OK (although my boss did end up spending some time in court as a witness to a shooting he saw while driving home), but it was not the a place that I was comfortable walking through, and even less so at night. Driving through it, I keep very aware, and I avoided being on foot.

And, yet, even that neighborhood was not the worse in Seattle, and Seattle is not the worse city I've lived in or visited. There are some areas where the risk is not worth taking. If I found myself in those areas, I would be very "aware" indeed. Perhaps even to the point of being slightly frightened.

So, yeah, I think those forced to live in such areas either live in fear or to cause fear.

--Pete
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Joined: November 21st, 2001, 1:08 pm

November 18th, 2003, 6:44 pm #3

I promised myself that this was only going to be an information gathering topic, and that I would not respond to what people identified as their concerns and fears.

But, I just have to respond to this part:

We make fun of the fears of others ("I know women who cannot go to sleep at night when their husbands are not home until they have triple-checked the several alarm systems they feel compelled to own" very much has the feeling of "what fools they are".)


Mea Culpa

My first reaction to that confession from two women in a back-door-of-the-school conversation was exactly as you suggested. My more reflective conclusion later was sympathy. I cannot imagine living with that sort of fear. If a five minute tour to cross-check the defenses mitigates it for them, better that than sleepless nights. I do think it is a product more of conditioning than a realistic assessment of their risk, but, again, we all make our own choices.
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Occhi
Occhi

November 18th, 2003, 6:59 pm #4

I am curious about this topic. I read an article recently about the way we feel about our worlds, and how, in general, we are sold things - everything from government policy to shampoo. Much of what is sold to us plays on our fears.

In the discussion below on crime and punishment, there was one line that mentioned this, and it triggered me to ask you all about it.

Pete said (among many other things, and sorry for picking something out of context):

Now, throwing out sentimentality, what are the real choices? We can, one, live in an atmosphere where our life, our person, and our property are in constant danger from two legged vermin that are coddled by the bleeding hearts -- we have that now and it isn't working.

So here is my question:

Do you live in fear of criminals? Do you feel in 'constant danger'? If so, how does it affect your life? How does it affect daily decisions? And, if you don't mind, where do you live and how does that alter your perceptions of your risk from criminals?


To answer my own questions:

I do not live in any kind of fear of criminals. I live in a middle class neighbourhood in a very large city. I do live mere blocks away from a fairly large grouping of income-supplemented high rises where I am told teenage gangs run rampant, but it does not affect my daily life at all. I still forget to lock the door at times. In 20+ years in this neighbourhood, I have had one break-and-enter in my house and one theft from my car (both years ago now). My husband's office, also in this neighbourhood, has also had all of one break-and-enter in all that time. I have no fear of walking my streets, here or in the downtown. My cottage life has been even less disturbed by criminal behaviour.

Now I am aware of people that live in fear. I know women who cannot go to sleep at night when their husbands are not home until they have triple-checked the several alarm systems they feel compelled to own (despite living in the same sort of neighbourhood as me). I have always assumed they were conditioned to paranoia, to be truthful.

So....what about the rest of you? How do you live?
Now, throwing out sentimentality, what are the real choices? We can, one, live in an atmosphere where our life, our person, and our property are in constant danger from two legged vermin that are coddled by the bleeding hearts -- we have that now and it isn't working.

So here is my question:

"Do you live in fear of criminals? Do you feel in 'constant danger'? If so, how does it affect your life? How does it affect daily decisions? And, if you don't mind, where do you live and how does that alter your perceptions of your risk from criminals?"

I don't see it as all that complicated. There are criminals out there, and plenty of them.

What am I to do?

Not pretend they are not there.
Remain alert.
Not walk around with my head up my arse, making myself an easy target.
Report what looks suspicious to the cops, or mall security, what have you.
Teach my kids intelligent scan and awareness skills. (That last is a work in progress.)
Know where you are, be it a rougher part of town or otherwise, and act accordingly.
Lock the car.
Lock the house.
Keep the pistol where I can get to it when at home. (For some folks, that would be "keep the cell phone with 911 speed dial memorized" handy . . .)

When the dog barks, which in our case means "some one I don't know" be alert before coming to the front door.
Buy Insurance. If away from the house, I can still suffer theft. Minimize the damage.

Insurance is a tax we all pay for the crime rate in our area, no?

"Now I am aware of people that live in fear. I know women who cannot go to sleep at night when their husbands are not home until they have triple-checked the several alarm systems they feel compelled to own (despite living in the same sort of neighbourhood as me). I have always assumed they were conditioned to paranoia, to be truthful."

My wife was assaulted more than once while young, and she is a bit jumpier than I am in general, though we both are pretty realistic about common sense precautions.

After taking those, press on with your life, your number may come up eventually and the predators may target you for their next meal. On that day, like when my apartment got broken into in 1988, "it sucks to be you" (me in this case) so deal with that when it
happens and don't spend you life worrying about it.

The jagoff who broke into my apartment was the son of the Nueces County Duputy sheriff. She called, asking me not to press charges! I gave her a simple reply along these lines: "The kid stole my guns and my class ring, I am pressing charges. Your boy did not do you proud, ma'am." I was one of six houses hit that night.

I went through an anti Terrorism training course some years ago pursuant to overseas assignment. My friends who lived in Athens had it worse than I, what with the 17 November group. My biggest worry was the local organized crime organizationj, La Comorra, but I learned how to avoid getting on their radar screen when in Naples, so that was a non-worry for me. What was left was crime against property, a more common problem in Southern Italy than crimes against persons.

Thus, for 3 years, while living in Italy, and even though the Red Brigade was a memory, I did a security walkaround and inspection of my car every time that I did not park it in my garage over night. I lived out "in the economy" and my best protection against regular crime was that I was good friends with my Italian landlord and our neighbors, and his father in law lived behind us. His uncle, once a coastal battery gunner for Mousolinni in the Otranto straits (203 MM guns), was always around with his dog, and we locked the steel shutters on all windows, without fail.

We did not, in 3 years, ever suffer a break in at the house. Most of my colleagues at work suffered at least one. My German colleague from the submarine service got hit 3 times in five months. (The Carabinieri eventually figured it out: an inside job by the guys who had built the house. They had keys and local "friends.")

My car got broken into once. Most folks I knew who were "stragneri" had at least one or two in a three year period.

I still do the security walkaround now and again, to stay in practice.

I also know my neighbors, and we keep each other informed as to when we will be out of town. We keep an eye out for one another.

There is only so much you can do, and after that, it is a matter of choice by a criminal to act unlawfully.
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Occhi
Occhi

November 18th, 2003, 9:41 pm #5

I am curious about this topic. I read an article recently about the way we feel about our worlds, and how, in general, we are sold things - everything from government policy to shampoo. Much of what is sold to us plays on our fears.

In the discussion below on crime and punishment, there was one line that mentioned this, and it triggered me to ask you all about it.

Pete said (among many other things, and sorry for picking something out of context):

Now, throwing out sentimentality, what are the real choices? We can, one, live in an atmosphere where our life, our person, and our property are in constant danger from two legged vermin that are coddled by the bleeding hearts -- we have that now and it isn't working.

So here is my question:

Do you live in fear of criminals? Do you feel in 'constant danger'? If so, how does it affect your life? How does it affect daily decisions? And, if you don't mind, where do you live and how does that alter your perceptions of your risk from criminals?


To answer my own questions:

I do not live in any kind of fear of criminals. I live in a middle class neighbourhood in a very large city. I do live mere blocks away from a fairly large grouping of income-supplemented high rises where I am told teenage gangs run rampant, but it does not affect my daily life at all. I still forget to lock the door at times. In 20+ years in this neighbourhood, I have had one break-and-enter in my house and one theft from my car (both years ago now). My husband's office, also in this neighbourhood, has also had all of one break-and-enter in all that time. I have no fear of walking my streets, here or in the downtown. My cottage life has been even less disturbed by criminal behaviour.

Now I am aware of people that live in fear. I know women who cannot go to sleep at night when their husbands are not home until they have triple-checked the several alarm systems they feel compelled to own (despite living in the same sort of neighbourhood as me). I have always assumed they were conditioned to paranoia, to be truthful.

So....what about the rest of you? How do you live?
From New York Times.com

TORONTO (AP) -- Jean Chretien announced Tuesday he will end his 10-year run as prime minister on Dec. 12, giving way to successor Paul Martin. Chretien, who turns 70 in January, previously said he would retire as prime minister by February 2004. Under pressure from Martin, his governing Liberal Party and opposition groups, he now will step aside after attending a Commonwealth summit in Nigeria in early December.

<snip>

Martin, 65, is a fiscal conservative credited with balancing Canada's budget during his nine years as finance minister. The son of a longtime Liberal Cabinet minister, Martin also promises an activist government for social policies.

A top priority will be easing tensions between Canada and the United States following sour relations between Chretien and President Bush. The two countries share the world's biggest trade partnership worth $1.4 billion a day. (Take that, EU! )


Occhinote:

Just out of curiosity, why the hurry to run him out of town? Is two months that important? Is Mr Martin tired of waiting, or have Chretein's long time supporters just gotten tired of him, per Thatcher to Major, for one reason or another? He had a nice long run, and he kept his party in power, passing the reins to Martin.

Ten years is no slouch for a term as PM.
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Joined: November 21st, 2001, 1:08 pm

November 18th, 2003, 9:47 pm #6

A government in limbo is a Bad Thing™. Chretien announced a long time ago that he was leaving. But certain parts of government policy are dependent on the Prime Minister's direction. Who will be in his Cabinet? What will be the focus of policy?

Paul Martin was annointed as leader in a GLiberal party convention last week. (To no one's surprise, I might add.)

If the government is to get on with governing, the switch needs to be soon.
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Joined: March 5th, 2001, 7:01 pm

November 18th, 2003, 10:15 pm #7

Hi,

A government in limbo is a Bad Thing™.

If the government is to get on with governing, the switch needs to be soon.

One of the advantages of the parliamentary system. While there are some advantages to elections held at regular times for offices of fixed length (and in some cases of maximum length), it sometimes leads to decisions that are driven by political timetables rather than solid logic. The timing of the US invasion of Iraq, driven by the summer heat and the fall election season is a big example that comes to mind.

As is often the case, there is no ideal solution, just various compromises.

--Pete
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Griselda
Griselda

November 19th, 2003, 12:38 am #8

I am curious about this topic. I read an article recently about the way we feel about our worlds, and how, in general, we are sold things - everything from government policy to shampoo. Much of what is sold to us plays on our fears.

In the discussion below on crime and punishment, there was one line that mentioned this, and it triggered me to ask you all about it.

Pete said (among many other things, and sorry for picking something out of context):

Now, throwing out sentimentality, what are the real choices? We can, one, live in an atmosphere where our life, our person, and our property are in constant danger from two legged vermin that are coddled by the bleeding hearts -- we have that now and it isn't working.

So here is my question:

Do you live in fear of criminals? Do you feel in 'constant danger'? If so, how does it affect your life? How does it affect daily decisions? And, if you don't mind, where do you live and how does that alter your perceptions of your risk from criminals?


To answer my own questions:

I do not live in any kind of fear of criminals. I live in a middle class neighbourhood in a very large city. I do live mere blocks away from a fairly large grouping of income-supplemented high rises where I am told teenage gangs run rampant, but it does not affect my daily life at all. I still forget to lock the door at times. In 20+ years in this neighbourhood, I have had one break-and-enter in my house and one theft from my car (both years ago now). My husband's office, also in this neighbourhood, has also had all of one break-and-enter in all that time. I have no fear of walking my streets, here or in the downtown. My cottage life has been even less disturbed by criminal behaviour.

Now I am aware of people that live in fear. I know women who cannot go to sleep at night when their husbands are not home until they have triple-checked the several alarm systems they feel compelled to own (despite living in the same sort of neighbourhood as me). I have always assumed they were conditioned to paranoia, to be truthful.

So....what about the rest of you? How do you live?
I don't talk about this much. Those of you who aren't interested in me rambling about personal stuff probably won't enjoy this post.

I attended a very small college (~300 students) when a shooting took place. This was 1992, so school shootings hadn't become quite as "popular" as they were for a while later on. One student killed another student and a faculty member, and wounded several others. He had the intention, and enough ammo, to take out the whole school, but luckily his gun jammed, and he did not complete the job.

It was a small school, so I knew the perpetrator and the victims. It affected everyone. I was about a mile away from campus at the time. My house on campus was about 20 yards from the first shooting, and my roommates spent the evening on the floor in the dark, not knowing what was happening or anything other than people were getting shot somwehere very close by. Others who were closer to the whole thing certainly had worse experiences. I wasn't directly involved. In that sense, I was lucky.

After that, I became very fearful. I moved out to Oregon a few weeks later, and it took me a few months to stop wondering if the people I passed on the way to class were planning to kill people. Later, it became a more generalized anziety. I was afraid to be alone. I wasn't afraid of crime really, more of a horrible illness or accident happening. When I lived off campus, sometimes I would drive to campus late at night, just to be near other people and hear the sound of voices.

Some of that paranoia was drug induced, but I'd rather not say anything else about that. Suffice it to say, I did not handle things very well for the first year or so.

I've moved past the fear now, for the most part. I had to face it. I took a several month road trip on my own, where I started to learn how to depend on myself. There were some sleepless nights, of course, but I'm that much stronger for having faced the fear and learned to deal with it. I can recognize the irrational feelings when they come, and can let it drop at that. In fact, I think I'm probably less fearful, overall, than many other people that I meet, because I've had a chance to confront those feelings and to deal with them.

I know this probably sounds very strange, but we're all probably very strange in one way or another, right? Anyway, back to the present.

As far as crime, I am vaguely concerned about property crime type stuff. We live close to the town's high school, and have had to deal with some vandalism that started at the high school and headed down the street. Spraypainted cars, broken windows, etc. Every now and then the odd item will turn up missing from my car if I leave it unlocked, and once when it was locked (in that case, the lock was also damaged). Somebody killed my cat, too, probably by throwing a beer bottle at her. That was no fun. There was never any proof, although circumstances pointed to one household. I didn't really fear those people, though, but I was angry.

I don't usually lock the house during the day, but at least the front door will be locked at night. The only people I know who've had their houses broken into in this town have been robbed by somebody they knew as part of an ongoing disagreement. I try to keep my distance from people who tend to have these types of disagreements, and that's worked for me so far. Mostly, I lock it to keep the drunks from wandering in (not out of maliciousness, but because they're lost or something). It's a university town, so we have our share of drunks.

In Bowling for Columbine, Michael Moore claims that people who live in Canada tend to be less afraid of each other than people in the USA, and that's a reason for the lower rate of violent crime. (On that note, I'd better say that I do NOT support or agree with everything in that movie, and I personally find many of Moore's stunts to be in poor taste).

He doesn't support his claim with anything besides anecdotes, of course, but I thought it was interesting nonetheless. I'd like to see any studies that have been done about people's perceptions of crime rates compared to the actual crime rates in the area. Also, I don't know if anyone has looked at a person's perception of crime rates relative to that person's likelihood to commit a crime. That data might be tough to collect, but it could be possible.

-Griselda
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Nystul
Nystul

November 19th, 2003, 1:00 am #9

I am curious about this topic. I read an article recently about the way we feel about our worlds, and how, in general, we are sold things - everything from government policy to shampoo. Much of what is sold to us plays on our fears.

In the discussion below on crime and punishment, there was one line that mentioned this, and it triggered me to ask you all about it.

Pete said (among many other things, and sorry for picking something out of context):

Now, throwing out sentimentality, what are the real choices? We can, one, live in an atmosphere where our life, our person, and our property are in constant danger from two legged vermin that are coddled by the bleeding hearts -- we have that now and it isn't working.

So here is my question:

Do you live in fear of criminals? Do you feel in 'constant danger'? If so, how does it affect your life? How does it affect daily decisions? And, if you don't mind, where do you live and how does that alter your perceptions of your risk from criminals?


To answer my own questions:

I do not live in any kind of fear of criminals. I live in a middle class neighbourhood in a very large city. I do live mere blocks away from a fairly large grouping of income-supplemented high rises where I am told teenage gangs run rampant, but it does not affect my daily life at all. I still forget to lock the door at times. In 20+ years in this neighbourhood, I have had one break-and-enter in my house and one theft from my car (both years ago now). My husband's office, also in this neighbourhood, has also had all of one break-and-enter in all that time. I have no fear of walking my streets, here or in the downtown. My cottage life has been even less disturbed by criminal behaviour.

Now I am aware of people that live in fear. I know women who cannot go to sleep at night when their husbands are not home until they have triple-checked the several alarm systems they feel compelled to own (despite living in the same sort of neighbourhood as me). I have always assumed they were conditioned to paranoia, to be truthful.

So....what about the rest of you? How do you live?
I grew up in a fairly rural area south of Toledo. I was far more afraid of stray dogs than criminals (actually this has not changed; it makes me very nervous to see people walking/jogging large dogs without a leash). As a latchkey kid, I locked the door only if I was leaving the property. Interaction with strangers was almost unheard of.

I now live in Columbus, in a much more urban setting with much more crime (by volume if not by proportion). A walk down the block may mean passing 50 people I've never met before. I don't think it makes me afraid, but it can make me a bit nervous at times. It doesn't prevent me from walking around or going for a jog in the middle of the night. It doesn't change my behavior much at all, really. But it does make me feel uneasy at times.

In some ways, I may actually be much safer now than I was as a child. I've lived in Columbus for nearly a third of my life without being the victim of any crime. That rural house I grew up in, back off the road with no neighbors to keep an eye on it, was robbed at least 3 times during my childhood. But then, nobody came door to door posting bulletins about serial rapists like they do here.
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Joined: May 4th, 2003, 5:06 pm

November 19th, 2003, 3:32 am #10

I have found that awareness and distraction are your two greatest allies. For the greatest part, distractions like alarm systems serve little use in keeping you safe, as do door locks, loud barking dogs, and everything else one could afford in a suburbian lifestyle. What each of these things do offer is a difficulty factor to unskilled thieves. The idea is to consistently make the person scouting out your place or car as "A little more trouble than the house over there."

In my mostly insubstantial life I have seen a fair number of incidents. I have experienced a shooting in my classroom by a person I had spoken to on several occasions. I have seen a group of my friends get drunk and crash to their deaths after I did not take their keys. I have sat down in my car to notice my stereo stolen, shrugged and started using my CD Player instead. Heck, I sleep with my blowdryer running all night long. Inversely my girlfriend suffers from General Anxiety Disorder, and several subclasses of this. I have seen her cringe in fear at the very thought of travelling during the night.

Literally last week she was mugged at gunpoint, and had all of her purse and the $15 dollars inside stolen. She has since been practically crippled from travelling outside, and I often console her over her fears of all the terrible things that could have happened to her. Being shot. Raped. The thief becomming angry at the lack of cash. Etc. My internal reaction? "That was a rather nice mugger, all things considered." To me, it is a matter of rules to be followed to minimize risk, and when it happens regardless, it's barely a blip on the radar.

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