Dune’s Litany Against Fear states this so well: “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
Then we get FDR: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
And then Yoda: “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.”
So when did we start to ignore these warnings and let Fear rule our lives?
A friend recently brought this up on her LJ – and I decided this would be a good topic to explore next here. Fear. The Tarkin Doctrine from Star Wars seems to have been the Bush Doctrine from our past presidential administration: “Fear will keep them in line.” Rule through fear. Let fear be the blanket that people are wrapped in so that they will make no other choice. It was all about using fear to keep in power – despite the lies, despite the corruption. But that’s another topic.
And people are still using fear. The Health Care reform our Congress tried to pass was derailed by fear mongering. Talk of “Death committees” and similar BS made this reform that they did pass pretty much pointless. We were told a public option would be the WORST possible choice. Really? You mean an option that might force the PRIVATE insurers to offer competitive plans? Oh, wait…we can’t interfere with profit! But let’s use fear to disguise that! But that’s a whole other rant, so I digress.
The Tea Party is all about using fear to get their way. Vote for this guy, and your family and our public institutions will be desecrated. Stop this from happening, or the terrorists will kill you. Don’t let the government have control (hidden message here being – don’t let THIS government have control, we should have it instead!) That they are heard at ALL, frankly, is kinda disgraceful, far as I am concerned. They are preaching something they don’t even really believe in – just to gain power. And they use a LOT of fear-mongering in the process. Again – that would be yet another digression.
Fear sells. Newspapers get bought, TVs get watched when we have tales of fear to tell. Terrorist attacks, crashing economies, sticking accelerators, disease epidemics – all things that bring up fear get the most attention and focus because they use the fear to drive sales.
This is NOT a good thing. Fear is dangerous. Fear prevents growth, and when things don’t grow – they die. And if we live in fear – we don’t really live, do we?
There are two people to blame for this – the people who peddle the fear, certainly – but then we also have to blame ourselves for BUYING it. If we let the fear overwhelm us, and we show the peddlers of fear that we’re buying – well they will just keep on selling.
Fear is easy. There are so many things to be afraid of – big and small. And the fear response is purely instinctive – and appealing to the basest instincts is an interesting way to control and direct people. Also easy.
I have long said that nothing worth having is ever easy. But we live in a quick-fix society. Take that pill, fight that war, fix the recurrent symptom but ignore the underlying problem. And fear incites that quick-fix reaction. Take care of it NOW before it becomes TRULY horrible. Except – when you only treat the symptoms, do you ever get to the root of the problem and resolve it?
So what can we do about this? How do we get the people to stop selling fear, and how do we stop reacting to it? That’s the trick, really. Fear is quite probably our most base emotion, and almost everyone FEELS fear of something or other. Fear is a quick and easy tool – and we allow ourselves to be victimized by it far too easily.
So what can I do about this, you might ask? Follow the advice of the quotes I began this with. Let the fear pass through, don’t hold onto it. Stop buying the fear – don’t buy the paper, don’t watch the news, and don’t talk about it with your friends – UNLESS you talk about THIS. Why we should NOT fear, why we should be brave and THINK about the world we live in – and stop letting our base emotions run our lives.
It ALL boils down to accountability. That’s yet another topic for another time – but in brief, WE need to be responsible for more than we are. We are SO QUICK to blame others – and we are lousy at taking responsibility for our own lives. SO MANY THINGS I believe would be a LOT better in this world if we just did a much better job of being accountable for things.
And that applies to fear. If we find ourselves letting the fear dictate our lives – we have to be responsible and NOT allow it. Be reasonable – be rational, and realize that the world is imperfect, but if we go about in fear – we do not truly live.
To reiterate – from Frank Herbert’s Dune – “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”