Tuesday, December 09, 2014

American Hysteria-- It's all just a little bit of history repeated

From the time of the Pilgrims, Americans have been prone to outbreaks of hysteria. You may remember that the Salem Witch trials began with a nine year old girl and her eleven year old cousin who displayed shocking fits that seemed to have no physical cause. As word of the behavior spread other girls in town began doing the same things. And suddenly some simmering neighborhood feuds and family resentments exploded with the girls accusing all kinds of people of witchcraft. By the time cooler heads prevailed twenty people were either executed or died in prison. Some people say that it was the accusation against the governor's wife that finally made most of the colonists realize that this whole thing was a monstrous farce.

We shake our heads at Salem these days but essentially the same thing keeps happening over and over. Do you remember the  day care abuse hysteria wave of the 80s and 90s which destroyed innocent people? At the time if you said, "Wait a minute. How can you take ten or twenty kids out of school in broad day light, abuse them in unspeakable and violent ways without leaving a mark?," people responded by accusing you of not not believing, being evil yourself or being small minded. At first we all believed what was being reported but as the years went by and we read details of the accusations it all fell apart. Obviously, children are abused in school but the ritualized chains of predators (if not outright covens) that suddenly rose up in the 80s and early 90s turned out to be not provable and in many cases obvious hogwash. The accused in the daycare scares are now either dead, elderly, or so severely traumatized that they just want to be left in peace. We don't have their protesting voices to remind us what happened to them and we let the media, the mad and the unscrupulous lead us on into something new to be panicked and outraged about such as the current campus rape frenzy.

 Panics like this are not completely unique to America but we seem to do it more spectacularly than anybody else.  Mary, Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.