You can live almost your entire life like one of those little antelopes on the plains of eastern Africa, grazing, hang-ing out with your family and feeling safe in amongst the other antelopes, looking like everyone else, eating what every-one else eats, one big happy herd.
And then a hungry lion arrives on the scene. Followed by a hell of a lot of hungry hyenas and vultures.
And then comes the panic. The blind running in all directions. The fear deep down in your guts.
You may be your Uncle John Antelope's favorite nephew, but when the lioness starts chasing, if you fall or stumble, you'll discover just how important being the favorite nephew is. And just how safe, too.
You'll discover, in the sharpest way, just what good Herdland Security will and won't do for you.
You'll also discover just how help-ful screaming out to Antelope Jesus all your little promises to be a better antelope really are.
And yet, when the lioness ain't around, what's a poor antelope to do except fit in? At your core, down there near your soul, you know even the partial safety you enjoy on those no-lioness days is built upon being in good standing with the herd.
It's a sure fact that the antelope that stands out often gets eaten first. James Dean Antelopes don't even make it to adulthood.
Still, even the most rebellious antelopes usually don't run around close to the lion pride on the non-hunting days, challenging them: "C'mon, catch me. Eat me. Chew me up and spit me out."
No, the antelopes that do that are called crazy reindeer.
But people folk ain't antelope.
That's one big reason I am not comfortable with President Pinhead. He spent years bragging he never read anything. He admitted he got his news in pablum form from his advisors. Already chewed over. Roveicized, if you like. One idea fits all.
Now, since everything has gotten super-hinky for Pinhead, his popularity polls dropping under 40 percent and all, his public-relations folk suddenly are talking about some history book or other our Fearless Leader is reading. As if intelligence and intellectual curiosity can just be picked up and put on like a clean shirt whenever you need it.
I've been thinking about all of this because Osama bin Laden is back on the scene, threatening away. Threatening us. The herd.
Now I am not saying Osama is a lion. He and his boys are hyenas. Vultures flying in under the radar. They don't hunt, they sneak around. Kill the innocent and the weak and the unsuspecting.
But I seem to remember after 9/11 that Osama was one of the big reasons we invaded Afghanistan, where he was reputedly hiding out. In a cave, no less.
But then came Iraq, and we forgot about bin Laden. When some report-er with a slightly better memory than the current journalistic herd asked Pinhead about Osama, he said he didn't really waste any time, anymore, thinking about the world's most dan-gerous hyena.
Pinhead, head of all the antelopes, said basically Osama was irrelevant.
Well, as a citizen of these United States, where 80 percent of the air freight shipped via American air carriers isn't checked at all, I can tell ya, flying suddenly scares the hell out of me again.
We have, whether we all support it or not, as a herd, been running rough-shod over Iraq, which last time I checked was part of the Muslim world.
As a culture, even those of us opposed to Pinhead's falsely arranged little armed incursion are always talking about the 3,000 Americans and other "coalition" soldiers killed. We seldom even bother to mention the 70,000 to 100,000 Iraq citizens wasted since Pinhead shifted his sights from Afghanistan and Osama to Saddam. The numbers vary, not because I am notably uninformed but because we don't really know how many folks holding Iraq passports have been killed.
One of the few truisms I pounded into my two daughters' heads while single-parenting them was: Don't pay any attention to what people say - see what they do.
We don't debate the dead Iraqis because, deep down where we live, we don't care about 'em. They ain't our kind of antelopes.
Now it is harder to catch a healthy, sneaky hyena or a lean, nasty vulture than it is to catch a fat old sitting lion. A lazy old male who has broken his teeth killing and bloating up on his own pride.
Saddam was hated by many in the Muslim world.
Osama himself called Saddam a bad Muslim.
He was, in other words, a sitting duck (not an African animal, but still). Except for fanatics, other Arab countries were not going to rush in when Pinhead attacked.
I bring all this up because, despite the upcoming Super Bowl and all the ads on television about joining our Army, I am feeling a lot more like an antelope than a lion lately.
An antelope that has been running with the herd even though he felt, and even bleated out a few times, that the herd was going in the wrong direction.
Suddenly, we are all, left and right, pro-war and anti-war, once again lumped in with Pinhead and his boys.
I am not comfortable these days when I venture out to graze.
And I am not confident that my big Uncle Sam Daddy Pinhead can, or even will try to, protect me.
If I prick up my ears I can hear him now, yelling at them all, lions, hyenas, vultures, even elephants.
What's he saying?
"Bring it on."
I am just afraid somebody dan-gerous is going to take him up on it.
I think I agree with Kris Kristoff-erson and Janis Joplin.
Freedom is just another word for nothin' left to lose.
Of course my granddaddy and daddy weren't in the oil bidness.
I don't have ranches I didn't work for to hide out at when the bombs start going off.
I gotta go out there every day on the savannah and try and survive.
Pinhead has not been making that easier, and I am one antsy antelope these dark, dangerous days.
And I remember, even if some of the herd doesn't, that John Wayne fought World War II in the movies, and that Ronald Reagan sat it out as a recruiter in the San Fernando Valley, while my Uncle Paul, who I never met (he died right after I was born), caught a fatal bullet in the Philippines.
I guess some antelopes are in more danger than others, and since I didn't wanna run toward the Middle East, and just followed the herd, recent developments upset this grass-eater more than a little bit.
I don't know what I could have done, but it should have been more.
Do you like where we're going?