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Do any of you remember Pogo? Pogo was a philosophical possum and a wonderful comic strip.
I have to admit that as a child, I never did understand the political and social humor dished out every week.
Actually, I’m not sure I’d understand them today.
But one quip of humor did catch my fancy back then.
It was a strip addressing an irrational fear that grips the minds of the irrational once a month. Pogo’s superstitious friend Churchey (the mud turtle) warned his friends, “Oh no! Friday the 13th falls on a Wednesday this month!”
It would seem that Friday the 13th was an unlucky day, no matter what day of the week it fell on.
It is prophetic that in a presidential election year, our first month’s 13th day falls on a Friday.
I’m not sure if this is any less lucky than a Wednesday, but historically it’s Friday the 13ths that worry most people.
Later this year, two more months (April and July) will also host Friday the 13th on a Friday.
In case you’re wondering, (and even if you’re not) every year has at least one Friday the 13th and three is the maximum number for any given year. The average is approximately 1.7 per year. Churchey’s superstitious nature is not all that unusual, at least not for humans. I’m not really sure if your average mud turtle carries a rabbit foot or collects four leaf clovers.
I wonder if anyone carries a mud turtle foot for good luck?
And why is a rabbit’s foot considered lucky? It certainly wasn’t for the rabbit.
Triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13, is far more prevalent than one might think.
Even today, some hotels skip the 13th floor (seriously, is there a theoretical limit to stupidity?).
I’ve read that some airlines (in particular, those with flights to Reno or Las Vegas) skip the 13th row in their seating chart, and those who do find some passengers refusing to sit in those seats.
Frankly, I think that if someone sitting in seat 13 dies in a fiery plane crash, my sitting in seat 14 won’t prove any healthier.
Now, whereas our friend Churchey feared the 13th on any day of the week, it is of course Friday the 13th which scares others.
If you really want to know fear, imagine having to spell “paraskavedekatriaphobia” or “friggatriskaidekaphobia” on a test! Those are the terms for “fear of Friday the 13th.”
Ah, but I do digress, on any day of the week and not just on 13ths.
What I find fearfully apropos about Friday the 13th in an election year is how fear and politics seem to mesh so well.
Politicophobia, the irrational fear of politics, is perhaps totally rational.
I fear that fear may be the single topic of discussion over the next 10 months.
Fear of illegal aliens rampaging through the streets, mindlessly taking our toilet cleaning and crop picking jobs away from us.
Fear of having our unprotected shores attacked by drug crazed Huns, Samurais and Vikings (Quick! Increase the military budget another $100 billion before the Mongols invade!)
Fear of hordes of homosexuals marrying and breeding and inundating society with their evil ways (come to think of it, who out there is breeding those guys?).
Fear of flag-burning god-hating liberals trying to force us to pay a minimum wage (how un-American can you get?).
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s most famous quote is about fear, and yet most people only know the first 10 words.
Given where our nation is and where it’s been going for the past decade, perhaps more people should study his entire statement;
“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself, nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror, which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
Why has our country become so immobilized by fear?
Roosevelt saw a future of promise and he warned of the terrible threat of being denied that future when we allow fear to guide us.
One would hope that our leaders would fear the truth of this statement.
But sadly, I fear that no one out there is listening.
Los Alamos columnist