Over the past month I’ve been stalked by the singular question: What if?
What if, returning from the grocery, I’m overwhelmed by one of the roaming bands of bigots spawned by Indiana’s enactment of a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as Connecticut’s governor claims?
What if Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner tries to make good on his promise to rip the economic guts out of Indiana?
Agitated by Rauner’s remarks, I emailed Illinois State Rep. Charles Meier, whose district lies in the middle of Illinois corn country, to ask if he supported his governor, but my query was rebuffed.
What if there was a reason for his silence? What if there was something afoot, something large and sweeping, like D-Day, or underhanded, like the Tet Offensive?
What if crazed Illinois corn farmers were coalescing into a cloud of hate fomented by years of economic discrimination, preparing to descend upon the defenseless burgs of Hillsdale or Rockville, lying quietly just 100 miles out from Springfield within easy range of a large John Deere at cruising speed?
Hordes of industrial farm implements combining houses into oblivion, the survivors scattered and fouling themselves in horror and despair.
Sure, Illinois might be more concerned about its $9 billion budget deficit, but there’s no telling what a destitute corn farmer will do once provoked.
I was falling to The Fear. Not just any fear, like fear of the dentist, but the big Fear, the one that lurks in the ether with Truth and Love and Death.
I was unsettled and decided to inventory the threat state by state.
Starting with my immediate situation in Florida, where I happened to be on business, I know firsthand a full third of the populace here has no idea where Indiana is, the second third and then some are too self-congratulatory on escaping wherever they were to care, and the final 30 percent will not admit to such knowledge for reasons known only to them.
Texas is large and formidable, but sooner or later, it will figure out how to leave the Union altogether and have nothing to do with anyone.
California is menacing; there are nearly as many Californians as there are Chinese. But California is waterless, panting like a dog in August, and any attacking force would certainly wither before clearing the high Mojave.
Besides, the whole place will probably spontaneously combust by autumn.
Best to keep focused on the smaller territories, like Connecticut, where they are pure and tolerant of all with the possible exceptions of Hoosier bigots and the misogynistic clans of Kentucky.
Then another thought began to seep in: What if I didn’t give a rodent’s rear for what anyone thought?
What if I just continued getting through the world one day at a time? Occasionally, tripping over the inspired moment, but more often than not falling short.
Diving deep for something larger than myself but likelier than not settling for the safety of shallow water.
Making the mistakes that men make and then making them right as best a man can do.
What if I drove past the Illinois economic militia on my way to Wrigley Field and flipped it a single-finger salutation, knowing full well the fine folk of Hillsdale were hunkered down and ready for them?
What if I just chilled out?
Jim Mayfield is a former Daily Reporter staff writer. He lives in Irvington.