“Will ‘Punxsutawney Phil’ see his shadow?” So read the headline on ABC News’ (and everywhere else’s) Homepage Saturday afternoon.
This is a groundhog we’re talking about. Think about that — the headlines of many of our national news outlets were concerned over whether or not a groundhog would “predict” a longer winter or not.
I assume most people don’t actually see a correlation between the behavior of a groundhog and the weather. So why do thousands of people gather to see a confused groundhog pulled out of a stump? Why aren’t we worrying about things that are actually important — actually real?
“I think we’re gonna have a great set, guys,” I said to the other members of an improv group I perform with just before we took the stage to perform on Saturday night.
“You’re gonna jinx it!” one of my fellow improvisers exclaimed.
“Yeah!” said another. Both were terrified that I had somehow cursed us to fail with my positive words.
How could those words possibly dictate what would happen on the stage? The answer is: They can’t. They don’t.
North Korea is developing nuclear weapons. I haven’t heard anyone gasp in fear over that.
Fear is such a funny thing. People fear jinxes and hexes. They fear curses and spells. They fear ghosts and monsters — things that aren’t real! Breaking news: Jinxes aren’t real. Curses aren’t real. The boogeyman is not real either. Why are we afraid of these things — things that we know don’t exist?
Nuclear weapons are real. Why aren’t we more afraid of those? You know, those things that could destroy the earth. Yet somehow we’ve become so numb to such a paramount issue. How? Why? Yes, nukes have been around for a while now… but they’re still around. They linger. They haven’t become any less dangerous. And new ones, as we see in the case of North Korea, are being developed. Why doesn’t that terrify people? Why do people spend time and energy worrying about lucky socks and pennies, but not nuclear weapons? Nukes shouldn’t exist to begin with. Now, an oppressive dictatorship which insists on holding that unicorns exist — clearly displaying a disconnection from reality, or perhaps just a desire to mislead its population — will have the ability to blow up the world. Fun stuff.
Are we just all in denial? Do we worry about silly, imaginary things because the real things scare us too much to think about? If we’re going to be worrying about something, it shouldn’t be hexes and dragons. It should be something that is real, present, and threatening — like an earth-destroying bomb. We can’t do anything about real problems if we’re too busy worrying about groundhogs and jinxes. How do we rid the world of these doomsday devices? I don’t know. I don’t think anyone knows right now, but we need to keep talking about it. Nukes are scary to think about because they’re real. But that’s exactly why we have to face them.
Frank Marasco is a senior in the College of Communication. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.