Thought I might surround this post with "fear" quotes.
- A man from hell is not afraid of ashes. Burmese proverb
I thought this an interesting quote in light of my belief that continuing to elect rich men and women who have spent all their lives insulated from the daily difficulties that beset most people, will rarely if ever produce effective policy that addresses hunger, poverty, lack of opportunity, income inequality, etc. Unfamiliar situations of which they do not fear.
- Fear is the foundation of most governments. John Adams, 1776
- War is fear cloaked in courage. William Westmoreland, 1966
- Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear. Albert Camus, c. 1940
I wonder if our current attitude about America's role as policeman of the world, reflects the notion that we have created our military industrial complex as a way to gain respect from both our citizenry, and those born in other countries. And, if being able to wage war at any time in any land at any level of potency actually gains that respect, or inspires internal resistance to Big Government, and external attitudes that view our overt militarism as a mask of insecurity.
-Great self-destruction follows upon unfounded fear. Ursula K. Le Guin
sanely under the influence of fear. Bertrand Russell, 1943
It is easy to reference the recent presidential election as a time when a politician and political party was able to harness the fears of the voters to garner a victory. But this was not the first time the United States electorate rewarded such appeals with a win. The bigger question is, will we awaken in time to scale back our reliance on fear to justify our future actions, or will this mark a continuation of the decline of the perception that America is the shining light upon the hill.
- Who lives in fear will never be a free man. Horace, 19 BC
- The man in constant fear is every day condemned. Publilius Syrun, c. 50 BC
- Suffering has its limits, but fears are endless. Pliny the Younger, c. 108
We all have fears. Many fears are universal, shared by the vast majority of people regardless of race, gender or ethnicity. But we also each have our own particular set of fears, including those we may have conquered through experience and maturity, those we recognize which help us to avoid situations which may cause them to surface, and those of which we remain unaware. It is this last batch that can lead us to perceptions and actions, both individually and in concert with others, that can be manipulated.
It is in those times that we are goaded to react to an event, or a campaign slogan, or a slanted news story that exacerbates our fears. We are hesitant to engage in conversation or activity with someone who looks, worships or loves differently than us, then we are presented with news that portrays that type of person in a negative way and our fear is solidified. More negative stories, more justified fear until we cannot fathom tolerating such a person in our life, in our country. No matter that people who look, worship and love as we do are also guilty of poor judgement and criminal actions, we are no longer judging individuals. It is the lot of them that are judged.
Sadly, once people become united in their fear against an entire demographic, it is easy to add another, similarly perceived "bad" demographic to the list. Once the pattern is established, it takes an overwhelming, usually personal experience to break that fear. Discrimination spreads astronomically, while anti-discrimination more geometrically. While I did not encounter the phrase, it is easy to be fearful, if you are always afraid, it is certainly true that a citizenry that is bombarded with doomsayers from both sides of the philosophical divide, will be that much more easily manipulated by those seeking to prosper from our fears, whether it be political or financial.
- Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear. Mark Twain, 1894
Perhaps now is the time for each of us to examine our fears, spell them out, imagine what would happen if they became reality. For some, the fear of losing one's job and the corresponding financial problems such an event would bring. For others, losing a spouse to disease, divorce or accident rekindles the fear of loneliness and being alone. And for most, the fear of death, of a possible nothingness for all eternity, or worse, a punishment meted out forever due to our sins, both conscious and unconscious.
For me, it is the fear of a life lived unremarkable. To have 70, 80, 90 years of life summed up by a two paragraph obituary. And, worse, to wonder for all eternity if my life was unremarkable due to a lack of talent or lack of ambition. My vision of hell.
- Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless,
unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat
into adventure. Franklin D. Roosevelt
And so, with that quote we find hope that once recognized, our fears can be named, and once named, made less potent, less paralyzing, so that each of us can discover the needed efforts to convert retreat into a financially untenable, or lonely, or hopeless life into a life full of hope and adventure.