The Drum Beat of Fear

August, 1941

Hot and dry. More so than usual, that August, along Campbell’s creek in the isolated mountains of eastern Kentucky,which undoubtedly added to the uneasiness among its inhabitants. Already, the drum beat of war was being both heard and felt and the inability to cope with the alarming  rumors of a coming catastrophe weighed heavily on the minds and hearts of young and old alike. They spoke little about this to others, hoping by their silence that what they feared would not come to pass.

So it was that one very clear evening toward the end of the month that a brilliant and unusual display of the Northern Lights unveiled those fears so that they now too joined the beating of the drums of war.

“It’s the end of the world,” some cried, while others proclaimed it was the American flag waving in the sky, a dreadful omen of what was to come.

War did come, the end of the world did not and the American flag remained in place. The fears of that generation faded as resolve replaced panic and leaders of integrity with a coordinated purpose , stood firmly together to drive away the noise of the drums.

But not forever. Once again the drums of fear beat loudly across the land. They are heard in a multitude of ways, fanned by the divisiveness of hate and blame and perpetrated by a new kind of leadership that seeks to exploit rather than calm their unsettling sound. So fear now well fanned, like fire licking its way along a hot August day, must find where to land and whom to blame. Conspiracy theories straight out of science fiction and a “deep state” that is waiting  to consume us all are fueled by this unfettered fear. Racism abounds, the poor are maligned, armed vigilantes assume the role of “defenders of freedom,”  walls are constructed to keep out “freedom seekers” and defenseless children are thrust away, under cover of darkness, from any compassion that would save them all because the drum beat of fear has grown louder and louder.

A deep seated part of the human journey, driven by the conviction that good overcomes evil, is the belief that the ethics of concern for others along with  justice and mercy are what binds together the elements of our souls and is the light that returns fear to the darkness from which it came. We must hold to that belief and stand firmly against those who would rather beat the drums of fear than be gifted by the brilliant display of light   in a clear night sky.

That is the hope that will drive away the drum beat of fear and keep us securely on the side of the angels.






About Olson Huff, MD

Olson Huff is a pediatrician, author, husband, father of three sons and grandfather of four dynamic and growing grandchildren. Often described as a visionary leader and eclectic thinker, his efforts have always been to acknowledge the power, value and delight to be found in ALL children. As a pediatrician he has used his skills as a clinician to provide healing, as an author his words to reveal the spirit of children and as an advocate to plead their case from the state house of politics to the White House of policy changes. His vision is that ALL children will have the very best start in life from their earliest years of development to the brightness of the future they aspire to shape. He believes ALL children have a right to affordable, quality health care, clean and safe environments and homes that cherish their presence.
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10 Responses to The Drum Beat of Fear

  1. Cecil Jividen says:

    So very well written, Olson. Congratulations.

  2. Elizabeth Colton says:

    Beautiful piece, Olson. It’s really a poetic essay. Thanks very much for including me in your emailing. I am keeping this for meditation and will forward to others. Peace, Liz Colton 

    Elizabeth(Liz)Colton,Ph.D. (tel: +1-202-468-5293)

  3. Judy Major says:

    Oh, I am so glad to read these beautiful words from you! They inspire me to remain hopeful and also tell me that you are apparently well and as thoughtful and eloquent as ever. Maybe one of these days we can have lunch together again, though it may be a while. As you might guess, I’m trying to stay busy and have taken on a leadership role in the big church garden on Merrimon. This weather is certainly challenging us, but none-the-less we’ve harvested and given away over 350 lb of greens in just the past month. The birth center had its 700th baby a couple weeks ago. I’m not involved at all anymore but still feel gratitude to you and so many others who encouraged me to soldier on with that project. If you have a moment, please bring me up-to-date about you, Marylyn and your family. Hugs, Judy

    • Judy, so good to hear from you! What a terrific milestone for the birthing center. Congratulations to you for all you did to make it happen!
      We are doing fine, staying in place as we should!
      I do look forward to lunch as soon as feasible!!

      Be well


  4. Barbara McLean says:

    Thank you for this, Olson. Your perspective is always insightful and helpful – especially now. Stay well. I look forward to the time we can have lunch together and catch up.

  5. tobyives says:

    Thank you Olson, Your words shine a light for me on the path that needs to be taken, the path that calls my name. The path is at times difficult particularly when the hart is heavy though moments of joy give strength. I seek joy each day be it the birds sharing the ripe cherries from our tree or the neighbor gifting us with two trout fresh caught from the Swannanoa river.
    Kind regards, Toby

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