Decade of fear

Fear is one of humanity’s most profound weaknesses. If we allow fear to stay with us in any kind of prolonged capacity, it holds us captive. Degenerates our ability to reason and react in effective ways. Prolonged fear can be used as an effective lever for the masses to move us in any particular direction so desired. This is what has happened in the first decade of the 21st century.

When the World Trade Center buildings were attacked in 2001, Americans had a brief and overwhelming sense of fear. What will be attacked next? Are my friends and family okay? How do I talk to my children about this? That is normal. Fear is a logical emotion after something like that happens. It keeps us on our toes. After that first day or so, though, our fear  gave way to feelings of resolution (we will carry on no matter what), vengeance (let’s kill the bastards who did this) and pride (you didn’t break our spirit). Those emotions are also normal. They are what ultimately lead us to seek out peace and justice (vengeance can’t last forever, for example, and rarely turns out well). Perfect and just as longer-term states of being. In order to mount the wars that our leaders thought necessary, however, those second-stage emotions had to be transmuted back to more easily-controlled states of mind.

Our need for vengeance was bastardized into fear (weapons of mass destruction, Iraq, Saddam Hussein). Our feelings of resolution and pride were twisted into a sort of fanatic patriotism (with us or against us, etc.). After a few months, we become a society of 280 million fearful fanatics who would justify anything we were told was an act of vengeance. And so the attacks on Iraq began and too late we realized our mistakes. What bothers me, though, is that we did nothing once we were shown the truth. Why?

The fear and jingoism had paralyzed us. Like a man locked in a death grip with the rock face he’s trying to climb. He can no more move up than he can down. He is frozen in fear. Paralyzed until his inevitable fall unless he finds that will within himself to carry on or back down. Now we stand as a society controlled and manipulated by that same paralyzing fear. Do we stay here until we fall, or do we find the will to move on?

This decision is what we must make on the cusp of this second decade. Can we reclaim our resolute pride and honor? Can we eradicate the vestiges of fear, paranoia and jingoism from our laws and become who we should be? There is only one right answer. If we do not recover now we never will. We will become that which we have always railed against: a fearful police state hellbent on world domination. It’s not too late, but it’s getting to be.