Citing the classic television series The Twilight Zone and its episodes as analogies to current and real life situations is, admittedly, not a very original proposition. Rod Serling’s seminal depictions of overweening paranoia and exposes of the foibles of human greed and vanity remain etched in the minds and hearts are those of us old enough to have viewed them when first broadcast or who have seen them in a variety of rerun incarnations.

That the choicest of these episodes are instructive for and illustrative of our present circumstances only enhances our appreciation of them. Only two days ago this blogger presented his take on certain aspects of paranoia titled The Inanity Of Fear

As noted in that piece one of my favorite writers, Reg Henry, had just offered his views in his weekly Pittsburgh Post-Gazette column.

He and I are not alone in our attention to the phenomenon of public paranoia sweeping across the range of political partisanship endemic in these United States.

And this article from the Huffington Post provides a helpful reminder of the prescience of The Twilight Zone.

It centers on “6 “Twilight Zone’ Episodes That Prove Society Is Way More Terrifying Than Any Monster”

For an example:

As a response to communist paranoia, “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street” became an instant classic of “The Twilight Zone” when it aired during Season 1. An otherwise “calm and reflective” neighborhood responds to warnings of aliens with mounting accusations that quickly reach the point of hysteria. As the installment comes to a close amid total chaos, the camera pans out to reveal the aliens do exist. “They pick the most dangerous enemy that they can find,” one says to the other. “And it’s themselves.”

In that episode residents of a typical American neighborhood are faced with a sudden loss of electrical power. Soon, after listening to tales of space invaders heard by a young teen boy, the good folks of maple Street are soon looking upon each other with suspicion and begin accusing others of being the space monsters masquerading as a family, out to get them and theirs.

The denouement comes when, witnessing the chaos developing, the actual space aliens are seen when there is a cut to a nearby hilltop, where it is revealed the mysterious meteor that had flown overhead is indeed an alien spaceship. Its inhabitants, two alien observers, are watching the riot on Maple Street while using a device to manipulate the neighborhood’s power. They comment on how easy it was to create paranoia and panic, and conclude that the easiest way to conquer Earth is to let the people of Earth destroy themselves as their own worst enemy.

I consider this apt allegory for what we Americans have done to ourselves post 9/11. We are suffering from Post Patriot Act Distress wrapped in vastly increased NSA surveillance; torture memos; wars of poor choice; warrantless searches and seizures of property and persons; religious persecution; and spineless war-mongering.

What has our paranoia wrought?

The sight of thousands of our own citizens dead, some beheaded, because we haven’t learned that aggression breeds counter aggression.

The sound of many political lips flapping proposing one more absurd response after another to the chaos our own misdeeds have generated.

And our mind? Well our collective MIND appears to have its thought processes and ability to reason blurred by the violent rhetoric we subscribe ourselves to and, in another sense, we do not seem to MIND any of this at all.

I can only imagine the riotous laughing to occur when the aliens return home to report on what paranoid over-reacting pushovers we are.

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  • Little_Minx  On October 25, 2014 at 7:41 PM

    Were you a fan of “Third Rock from the Sun”?

  • toadsly  On October 25, 2014 at 9:06 PM

    Great read. And the media stirs this pot.

  • Charles Marshall  On October 26, 2014 at 12:38 PM

     Dave, This is an absolutely brilliant analysis. I love it. Now, how can we fix it? Years of propaganda and mis-information have brought us to this point and people are too ignorant to see what is going on right in front of them. And unfortunately today’s media swallows the bait hook, line and sinker, because of all the money they can make playing to the fears of the dummies listening and watching.  Charlie

    • Devildog  On October 27, 2014 at 3:33 PM

      Yes Dave, please tell us-“how can we fix it” considering “people are too ignorant to see what is going on right in front of them” and the media is “playing to the fears of the dummies listening and watching”. Tell us Dave, you have to, we need to know!

      • umoc193  On October 28, 2014 at 9:23 PM

        You and Charlie place a great responsibility upon my broad shoulders.

        No true solution is available until the powers that be freely acknowledge where they have gone wrong. I think from time to time I have expressed, possibly in a roundabout way, the ideals we should adopt and the goals we should strive for. But no progress is made beacuse there’s no acknowledgment of a problem. Or at least there is great resistance to acting to correct.

        Take global warming. there is no substantial scientific disagreement about its reality. The only real opposition to acting is political, manipulated by those who fear their financial interests will be harmed. If the problem were at least universally recognized then we could have a dialogue on solutions. Anything as yet proposed is condemned out of hand by the deniers. So it is difficult to assess if current efforts or proposals are the best way to address the problem.

        Cap and Trade, now anathema to the GOP, was their idea in the first place. I have problems with allowing entities to purchase the right to pollute on any level, but with an overall cap on that pollution it may be a viable way forward.

        What does puzzle me on that issue is many of the opponents to solutions and deniers themselves have the acumen and money to devise ways to attack global warming and make a profit at the same time.

        • Devildog  On October 31, 2014 at 4:23 PM

          Maybe the answer to your puzzle is that opponents and deniers, though having the acumen and money to devise ways to attack global warming and make a profit at the same time, are looking out for their fellow-man and don’t want to be snake oil salesmen.

  • Little_Minx  On October 26, 2014 at 11:54 PM

    Are you considering adapting this as appropriate for submission to a local newspaper? It’s truly worthy of a wider audience.

Please give me your thoughts.

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