Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.
Human beings have been blessed/ cursed with a vast range of emotions. (They make you cry sometimes.) Theres love, happiness, and sadness. I could go on but those are just a few. Each of the emotions that I just named also have varying layers that make each specific feeling more nuanced. All emotions are complex and each can get the best of you if you let them.
Few emotions are as complex as fear. Fear, one of the most primal of the emotions, is nuanced like the other emotions. Fear has the ability to warn us when were in trouble, allowing our latent primal instincts to kick in to help us survive. There is what could be called a healthy fear which keeps us from being idiots and getting involved in otherwise stupid or detrimental endeavors. (Car theft, drug dealing, or marrying an NBA player to name a few.) The most dangerous of all types of fear is irrational fear.
Irrational fear has caused vast amounts of destruction from the time we came out the primordial gumbo and began to walk upright. Irrational fear causes ideas such as National Socialism to thrive. Irrational fear has the ability to cause reasonably sane people to do and say things they normally wouldnt. Irrational fear causes dangerous paradigm shifts that open the door for the cessation of normal human civility and the spread of anger. Once anger settles in hate and suffering are never far behind. (See how I linked that to one of coolest little people ever.)
When I go home at night and flip through the various nightly news shows, I notice one thing: A good portion of the population is angry. Where does this anger stem from? Fear, thats where. Many Americans are afraid of something. Change. The future. Taxes. Healthcare. Obamas plans of taking their guns. These are just shoots in the dark when it comes to reasons. Sooner or later the fear and anger that I see on the news will manifest itself into full-blown hate. By the time hate shows up its usually too late.
This isnt a new phenomenon in this country. From time to time when things got bad for one group or another (Or everybody) we take the time to treat each other like crap just because were afraid. Heres are a few examples of what fear can do to the American populous:
The treatment of free blacks post reconstruction in the south is my first example of what fear can do to those who let that fear turn to hate. Two of South Carolinas governors, Wade Hampton and Pitchfork Ben Tillman both supported state sanction terrorism for on purpose: hatred of blacks. This hatred stemmed from nothing but fear. In this case the fear of a former piece of their property looking them in the eye and viewing them as an equal.
*Side note*the irrational fear and hatred of blacks was backed by stereotypes that were present from the time the first African slaves arrived in the Diaspora. D.W. Griffiths film The Birth of a Nation is a prime example of the irrationality of this fear. *
The Grapes of Wrath was fictional account of the treatment of Americans by their fellow citizens during an era when the nation found itself in dire financial straights. The experiences of the Joad family and other Okies on their way to California during the Great Depression was another example of how the fear of outsiders and the impoverished manifests itself.
Japanese-American citizens on the west coast found themselves interned for the duration of the Second World War because they had a common link ancestral link with Americas enemy. As insane as it sounded many Americans believed that their Nisei and Sansei neighbors who paid their taxes and worked alongside them for years were all an internal force of guerilla fighters for the Imperial Japanese Empire.
In the past decade the fearful thoughts of the uninformed have been slowly making a foothold in the brains of many Americans without reason. With the election of Barack Obama as president Ive heard all manner of ridiculous ideas brought to the forefront.
There are the Birthers who claim the president was not born in the United States. Any rationale to support their argument is vague and borderline foolish.
At the forefront of the fear and hate movement are the Tea Baggers. Modeling themselves loosely after the colonists who carried out the Boston Tea Party (Kind of foul that they dressed up as native Americans.) The Tea Baggers claim to promote the defense of the Constitution and fiscal conservatism, which is fine if thats your thing, but their protests are usually just loud and filed with various vitriolic statements about the Federal government. I just find it funny that they werent around during the past decade when the country started going to sh*t.
Without having to use citations from the DSM-IV and writing a full on college paper I just want to know why is it do people allow themselves to be mislead by misleading or slanted information without using common sense? Yes were having a time of it and the last two to three years have been rough, but it hasnt been rough enough (In my opinion.) to cause us to lose our minds. A foreign power is not foolish enough to infringe on our borders. We are not committing sanctioned acts of genocide against our native population. The black population is no longer chattel and Im counted as whole man. We are not embroiled in a Civil War. We are not in a depression, great or otherwise. The Germans and the Japanese arent ravaging the globe. The communists filed for Chapter 11 two decades ago. Finally, minorities and women all have the proper opportunities to take part in business, government, and any other inalienable right.
In spite of this the fear still seems to be winning out. Making otherwise reasonable (Maybe not.) people do and say unreasonable things. As a whole have we gotten that soft and thickheaded that we cant discuss issues of importance without displaying a taking our ball and going home attitude?
Irrational fear is something else isnt it? Staying informed is my only answer to the problem. Dont get all of your information from one source either. Learn how to look for credible sources and listen to reasonable people who are qualified to speak on the topics. Thats the only way to keep irrational fear and its friends anger, hate, and suffering at bay.
Lastly, listen to your corner and watch for the hook.