For some people, paranoia is a way of life

February 24, 2015

I can’t even begin to count how many conversations I have had over the course of my life with people who thought it was a good idea to have a loaded handgun next to their bed for protection. Their justification was that they might need to shoot someone they thought was trying to kill them.

One man believed there was going to be a violent, social class revolution in this country between the haves and the have-nots. He believed the rich were going to hoard all the food, and the poor would have to take it by force. He was preparing for this apocalyptic event by having a loaded gun in the house. He lived alone and was willing to kill to make sure his belongings would be safe.

Even as a child, I remember hearing people talk of killing each other in order to protect their stuff. Some of my high school teachers talked in class about having firearms in their homes in case anyone tried to rob them. When I heard this, I couldn’t help but wonder what value people put on human life. Is their stuff so precious it is worth killing for?

Some people seem to have this paranoid fear that they are under constant threat and need to arm themselves. Incidentally, to the best of my recollection, all of the people I remember who said they had loaded handguns next to their beds were men—mostly military men. What do you make of that?

At this point, you may be thinking that I believe we should never kill another human being under any circumstances. No, that’s not what I believe. I get that we need to protect ourselves.

If someone were truly threatening my life or the life of someone else and the threat were immediate, I would do whatever it takes to survive and defend those around me. However, I am not going to be sleeping with my revolver and shooting in the dark at anything that moves.

It’s really a matter of degree. We need to strike a balance between being paranoid and being naïve. We don’t want to get to the point where we are afraid of things that go bump in the night, nor do we want to be vulnerable by being overly trusting.

So how do you strike this balance? Well, that depends on the safety of your environment. If you live in a high crime neighborhood, more protection may be required. If you live in a safe neighborhood, little to no protection may be needed. It’s a personal call. No one else can make that decision for you.

One important thing to consider when making that personal decision is the actual odds of being victimized. Ask yourself, what is the probability that my fear will actually come true? That way, you are being rational while keeping paranoia at bay.

Keep in mind that the media feeds us fear messages every day. After a while, we start to believe the chances of us being victimized are quite high when they are statistically extremely low—probably less than half of one percent.

The media has a huge influence over our perceptions of the world, creating what I call a fear culture. From the young to the old, rich or poor, black or white, people are living in fear. How much of that is perpetuated by the fear-based stories you hear on the news and read on the Internet?

On a side note, I find it ironic that the people I personally know who claim they are so afraid of being robbed that they have a loaded handgun next to their beds are the same people who put their own lives in jeopardy by practicing extremely poor health habits. They drink excessive amounts of alcohol, smoke like a chimney, habitually eat fattening junk food with high cholesterol, and do not exercise other than to lift the TV remote control. Their unhealthy lifestyle is a greater threat to their survival than being killed by someone else.

Today’s Loving Suggestion: Try not watching the news or reading any fear-based articles on the web. Keep asking yourself, “What are the actual chances that this frightening event will happen to me?”

When you realize you have a greater chance of winning the lottery than being murdered by an intruder, you can stop clutching your revolver under your pillow and finally get a peaceful night’s rest.

If you have followed any of the suggestions in the Sir Rennity feature, I would love to hear your stories. Please email me at I will keep your letters private unless you request that they be published.

The Sir Rennity feature is intended to provide gentle guidance for your life. These articles hold no intrinsic meaning. You give meaning to them based on the value you place on them, so the words here are meaningless unless you put them into practice.

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