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Saturday, May 08, 2021

Imagine two fairly built girls returning from lacrosse practice at Southwest Recreation Center. They exit the gym with another male student and carry their heavy equipment toward the bus stop. Upon reaching the bus stop, the weather takes a turn for the worse and rain starts pouring down on the girls.

As they sit with their heavy equipment in the torrential downpour, the same male student who exited the gym with them rolls down his car window, asks them where they live and offers them a ride saying he's heading in the same direction.

The two girls take a minute to think as they drown in their drenched clothes. They reply with a firm "no" and choose to wait in a hurricane for a bus which may never show instead of accepting the kindness of a fellow student.

As my friend sadly described his experience, I couldn't help but think how this one occurrence reflects the disturbing trend of culture today. Listening to his story, I tried to hide my own thoughts on the situation - I wouldn't have accepted his ride either.

When we're young, our parents tell us not to talk to strangers. Some things you can grow out of, but apparently suspicion is not one of them.

Suspicion seems to only heighten with time, and the scary thing is, we're all scared.

Maybe we're not the hide-under-your-bed, buy-a-shotgun scared. It's more of an underlying feeling that manifests itself in our day-to-day life.

We're all suspect and we're all suspects. The words "creepy" and "sketchy" might as well function as commas in our everyday language.

We live amongst a culture of fear. Let's face it, the media haven't given us reasons not to suspect. The government hasn't given us a reason not to fear.

With the anniversary of Sept. 11 approaching, it's interesting to note that all our increased security over the years has increased our fears. We all think we're the target of the next Armageddon.

The tragedy of Virginia Tech is still fresh in our minds as students rally to arm themselves on campuses.

But in spite of everything to fear, some of my friends still endlessly mock my relatively large Mace can on my key chain. And no one believes me when I assert my red-belt status in the martial arts world. I try and tell myself they're in denial. Of course I know what's out there. Or maybe I don't.

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Though my Mace key chain doesn't always compliment my attire - as much as I love combat clothes, it's not really comfortable in this extreme heat - the sad part about my Mace is that I actually think I need it.

We face so many questions on a daily basis in regards to fear and security. Whether it's national security, our own security or our friend's security, we're all trying to protect something or someone. There are jobs devoted to the practice of suspicion and protection.

I'm just tired of the questions. I'm feeling over-questioned. I'm feeling overprotected. I don't want to face what everyone says to be the truth. My friend is a great guy, but not every guy is a great guy. And obviously some people are worthy of our suspicions. The truth is I'm right in agreeing with the girls who didn't accept my friend's ride. But completely losing faith in our fellow man is the scariest thought of all.

Stephanie Rosenberg is a junior majoring in journalism. Her column appears on Wednesdays.

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