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Is America still the home of the brave?

Collectively, America seems to have become a people addicted to fear, whether it's about the economy, the weather, or children on the way to school. Once again, the nation needs to remember that 'the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.'

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Americans have sadly become a people beset by fear, rendering dubious the phrase “home of the brave” in the national anthem.

It is not that we are no longer capable of individual acts of courage. We see plenty of bravery along swollen levees of the Mississippi River, in flood-
ravaged Vermont, at bedsides in hospices, and among soldiers in Afghanistan.

But collectively, we seem to have become a people addicted to fear, whether it’s about our economy, our children on the way to school, or the weather.

When hurricane Irene recently stalked up the East Coast, I watched friends here in the Berkshires of Massachusetts glue themselves to The Weather Channel. They quaked and planned escape routes from a storm that was still more than 500 miles away and that ultimately missed most of them.

Being prepared is one thing. My wife and I lost power for 2-1/2 days, and we tied down docks and boats to prepare. But the incessant hand-wringing of residents, the breathless news reports and their dire predictions, and the overreaction of some officials (close New York City’s subways before a drop of rain has fallen?), generated a hurricane of fear. Yes, I know, hurricane Katrina. But still.

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