Fear has been used very effectively to get people to blindly do what others want them to do, from getting into an illegal invasion of a sovereign country or intrusive full-body scans at airports. We seem to go along with the crowd because, at least we want to be safe don’t we? Giving over free will because we are scared is not very healthy. We weigh the alternatives and think that there is no way to buck the system. Well bubby there is. It will cost, mind you, in time and ridicule and even hatred from some towards you. We need to weigh the cost and determine if it is worth it. The root of fear is the “unknown” when we don’t know just how things are going to work out sometimes we make serious mistakes. We even let others think for us. Fear can really mess with one’s mind. Watching a steady diet of fear-mongering on the tube can brain wash logically thinking people. Truth becomes a casualty.
Fear is also a convenient distraction and vexing to the spirit causing dis-ease. When things are bad like losing one’s job or the person we wanted to be elected isn’t elected or the price of gas creeps up overnight or we have heard that democracy is going away, we respond, usually by blaming someone else for our response to our ills. In the middle ages, the Black Death was blamed on the Jews. An outbreak of bubonic plague at the beginning of the 20th century in San Francisco was blamed on the Chinese. After the stock market crash of 1930 Hoover signed the “Mexican Repatriation Act” The Mexican Repatriation Act of 1930 was a cynical and desperate act by Congress to at least appear to be doing something about the spiraling unemployment in the nation as we entered the Great Depression proper. Hoover thought it was a foolish and useless law, but went along with it because it was popular, especially in the Southwest, where anti-Mexican sentiment, then as now, was very strong. A lot of American citizens (estimated at 60%) were caught up in the sweep because of their Hispanic heritage and shuffled off to Mexico.”We need their jobs for needy citizens.” Fear is an incredible weapon.
Unfortunately it can turn into a self-righteous weapon. Remember when the AIDS epidemic broke and animosity was directed at Gays? This disease gave some another good reason why this group should be marginalized and even quarantined. It was OK to harass or even kill Gay people because God had dropped this disease on them. Fear. Now fear driven hatred is focused on Muslims because for the most part folks like to lump everyone together and paint with a broad brush. They are different. They are not us. If some are bad, then all are bad. There cannot be any grey…it’s too hard to distinguish. Fear.
I’m not sure if there is an easy solution to dealing with the fear that vexes the spirit. Perhaps we need to be pro-active rather than re-active. Perhaps we need to find the truth from different sources rather than just one. That means that we need to step back, breathe and call fear what it is, fear of the unknown. How do we make the “unkown” “known?” We need to find out more about what is causing our dis-ease and act rationally. What do I see in the mirror?
…and so it goes…