Things we fear change as we grow older

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 6, 2007

As children, horror movie villains and ghost story ghouls are the stuff of nightmares.

As adults, the “bogeymen” are of a much more human variety.

Vampires, ghosts and ax-wielding maniacs are replaced with drug addicts, sexual predators and, well, I guess ax-wielding maniacs may still be on that list.

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Children run to their parents when awakening from a bad dream. Sadly, many adults have nowhere to run since their nightmares are reality, yet another product of the world in which we live.

The headlines never cease to shock and amaze, even to someone like me who has grown accustomed to seeing the inhumanity that our society can muster.

Women murder their children simply because they don’t want to be inconvenienced with that thing called “motherhood.”

Strangers kill and rob strangers for nothing more than a few dollars and quick fix of their drug of choice.

Grown men and women prey upon young children as a way to fulfill their own perverted sexual desires.

These are things that scare me as an adult. I have long since lost all fear of those childhood frights.

Innocence and fear are both interesting parts of the human condition.

When we are young and innocent, we fear the unknown and the things that we cannot see nor explain.

As we grow older, we become more fearless. As teenagers, many think they are invincible and fear nothing.

Then we become adults and fear creeps back into our lives because we recognize our own mortality and cherish our families.

Our violent society raises the question that has been philosophically debated for centuries: Are human beings inherently good or inherently evil? Is it nature or nurture that makes the difference?

That is a question that each and every person must answer for himself or herself.

While it is difficult because even the definitions of “good” and “evil” mean different things to different people, I think that people are predisposed to be “good,” at least by my definition.

Upbringing cannot explain all the horrors and tragedies that we see in this world but it has to be a primary factor in how someone can be so cruel or accepting of violence.

But that doesn’t mean that television, movies and video games should get the blame. Individuals are responsible for their own actions.

Childhood bogeymen fade with innocence. The real monsters in our world turn out to be “human.”

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at