It's amazing what you learn from the conversations with children, especially your own, about their perceptions of the world we're helping to create for them.
Last week, as my wife prepared for her ``room Mom'' Halloween party duties at our children's elementary school, our daughter shared a bit of news that saddened her, and us.
It seems one of her best friends in class wasn't going to be allowed to participate in this year's trick-or-treat night because her mother was afraid of the anthrax scare.
It made me think about the good and bad about American mass media. We have become so sophisticated, and instant, with our delivery of news, especially through the electronic media, that it is much easier for our governments to communicate with us quickly and efficiently.
One could easily make the argument that the reporting of the anthrax poisonings around the country has been helpful, in that it has raised everyone's awareness about the warning signs in mailed packages and letters.
Public opinion, intensified by the news reports, will force our law makers and political leaders to enact the kind of permanent changes we need to make as a society to ensure America's safety going forward.
But there is a gap between the reality of an anthrax threat in a postal center serving offices in the nation's capital and daily life in the relatively bucolic world of Medina County, Ohio, where we live. While heightened awareness is a good thing, social paralysis is unnecessary.
While acknowledging the challenges in times such as this, with America under attack by terrorists, we must not allow threats to undermine our cultural, economic and political systems. And that will require better leadership from the Bush administration, namely in the form of Attorney General John Ashcroft.
As of this writing, we were six days away from the time he warned the country that the government had ``credible evidence'' to indicate that we would be targeted with another terrorist action within a week.
It's difficult to criticize the president's team because it has been very effective for the most part, but they need to exercise some restraint in warning the public. Otherwise, we have the most serious type of ``boy-who-cried-wolf'' syndrome, and people might stop paying attention.
There are a couple of good endings to last month's Halloween challenges.
We had no reports of anything to hurt any children, who were frolicking under a Halloween full moon for the first time in nearly a half-century. The weather was dry and warm, which made for laughs and squeals as the costumed characters paraded around our neighborhoods.
Our 8-year old daughter took it upon herself to ask folks for an extra candy for her younger brother, who was fighting his second bout of illness of the school year.
Inside I beamed with pride because she decided to do this on her own, and her actions helped save Halloween for a little boy.
And as for the little girl in our daughter's school? It seems that her father stepped in and insisted that she be allowed to join the other children in the door-to-door candy fest.
Reason prevailed, and we won a small victory in the battle to recapture our American way of life.
Mr. Tucker is publisher and editorial director of Crain's Cleveland Business, a sister publication of Tire Business.