Read: Don't worry they're headed home
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It looks like the state legislature is headed home early this year. All we have to wait for now is harmony and peace in the political world around the Volunteer State. And, if you believe that is going to happen, then let me talk to you about a nice building lot in the Everglades. I am sure there will still be interesting happenings occurring up in D.C., but just maybe all of the promises made this past year won’t be fulfilled to make our hopes and dreams come true.

Some legislation that occurs can even cause fear in many of us. By the time we hear the media reports, get the calls from those who want everything their way and listen to the discussion around the country stores, a lot of legislation becomes so taken out of context that it doesn't even resemble the originally introduced bill. Over all, our legislators seemed to have done a pretty good job this session and I wish to thank them for that. Now they will have the entire summer to think up some new bills to make us worry into adding another blood pressure pill.

I heard a story the other day about a ninety-year-old lady at the assisted living center who received a visit from one of her church members.

“How are you feeling these days, Mrs. Smith?” the church member asked.

“Oh,” said the lady, “I’m just worried sick and scared to death!”

“You sure look well. What are you worried about?” her friend asked. “Are you in any pain?”

“No, I have never had a pain in my life and feel as fit as a fiddle,” Mrs. Smith answered.

“Well, what are you worried about anyway?” her friend asked again.

The elderly lady leaned back in her recliner and explained her major worry to her friend, “Every close friend I ever had has already died and gone on to heaven. I’m afraid they’re all wondering where I went.”

Just like this story, we all have fears and sometimes those fears are not worth the effort we put into them. We heard polls all during the election and they all were a little frightening for somebody. A few years back, a Harris Poll came out with a study on what people are afraid of. I have used that information before and think it needs repeating.

They interviewed 1,015 adults to find out just what people are afraid of. Their detailed poll did find out that snakes are our number one fear and women have more fears than men. I’m afraid of what women are going to say when they read this.

The poll did show that two out of every five Americans are afraid of snakes. Forty-nine percent of the women said they were afraid of snakes and twenty-two percent of the men. That may be pretty true, because my wife use to keep a hoe around in a special place just for snakes. Since her passing, I haven’t seen a snake around the place and the hoe hasn’t been moved. I guess the snakes don’t think it’s worth the use to try to frighten me. The mouse number is down as well, so maybe the snakes are spending more time taking care of business rather than scaring the lady of the house.

Here is the interesting part about our fears. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) has reported that only 2 people a year die from snakebites. I still wouldn't handle one, but it goes to show you our fears, a lot of the time, really have no background to justify the fear.

In other categories, one in four people are afraid of looking down from great heights, while one in five are afraid of being alone in the forest. I just don’t want to be in the forest at a great height.

The poll also showed that only 16 percent were afraid of spiders and insects, 11 percent didn’t like mice, 9 percent hated flying and 8 percent get nervous during thunder and lightning.

The Harris Poll also found there were big differences in the levels of fear among people with more or less education. For example, those who did not graduate from high school, compared to those with post-graduate degrees, were almost five times as likely to be very afraid of being alone in a forest, four times as likely to be very afraid of going out at night, and more than three times as likely to be very afraid of flying and spiders.

I’m also afraid to answer polls, which would really have messed this story up if they had called people like me. As thirty-second President of the United States Franklin Roosevelt once said, "There is nothing to fear, but fear itself." That is unless you are one of the two people statistics say was bitten by a snake.

- Pettus L. Read is Director of Communications for the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. He may be contacted by e-mail at


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