Fear is a powerful motivator. It is an important evolutionary device. It helps us, when properly understood, to avoid greater harm and damage to ourselves. It is the emotional equivalent of pain that, for example, tells us to withdraw our hands from a fire rather than to leave it there and allow it to be burned to a crisp.
However, it is also a dangerous tool that can be used to confuse, mislead, and control people. It has led to great harm. In fact, it is likely the single most powerful weapon in the political arsenal, and politicians and other leaders, have been using it for as long as we have had them. The examples are legion and varied. Some have used fear to gain power while others used fear to hold on to that power. Still others used fear for both purposes.
What may be unique about modern Western culture is that we have institutionalized this use of fear to the point that it is not about a particular individual, or even a cabal, gaining and holding power, but rather it is a way of life. My study of history is not complete enough to know for certain if this is truly a unique development, or if it just another example of history repeating itself. It could be an interesting historical study, but honestly it doesn’t matter. It isn’t even just political. We use this in every aspect of our lives from marketing for our cleaning supplies to teaching to politics and everything in between.
It has gotten far out of hand. I have touched on this topic before. It has grown worse over the years, and now instead of being a tool that is used by desperate men, or a tool of last resort, it is commonly used and is a tool of choice by many no matter what their political persuasion, or even their intent.
The events of this week bring this to light again. Immediately, literally within hours, both sides of the gun control issue were screaming their points into the ether. Both sides wanted to use the deaths of 12 people, the wounding of 59 others, and the fear (legitimate and otherwise) to build support for their cause. To those who would use this tragedy to further their political aims, I say, a pox on both of your houses! I have my opinions on the issue of gun control and the 2nd amendment, and those opinions may surprise some of you. However, I will expound on that at another time. It is not germane to this discussion, and I will not engage in that at this time.
This is what actually matters right now regarding this shooting incident, 12 people were killed, 59 were injured, and 1 other is so deranged that he thought this was an acceptable or even right thing to do. We do not at this point know why he did what he did. I will not speculate as some have done as to the specifics. I have seen some try to tie him to the Tea Party and others try to tie him to the Occupy Wall Street movement. In the absence of fact, people will attempt to assign him to that group that they dislike the most at the moment, as usual. I will say this though. I believe that when his motive comes out, we will find that it boils down to fear.
We allowed fear to let the PATRIOT act to be passed after 9/11, which was one of the greatest encroachments on our rights in modern history. We have allowed fear to justify sending our soldiers around the world to kill innocent men, women and children in other countries in supposed searches for supposed terrorists. We have allowed fear to justify illegal actions by other countries in killing innocent men, women and children too many times to count. These are the larger items.
On the smaller scale we allow fear to control our every day lives in so many ways. Everything from being afraid to look for new, better jobs, to fear of rejection in approaching new people that might be new friends or potential mates. We have become so controlled by fear that we don’t know how to step up and be confident. We are afraid of failure. And, this too is a part of being conservative. Part of the, “I’ll stick with the tried and true.” Don’t be afraid to move forward and try new things. If we fail, at least we tried!
After an emotional event, do not be tempted to allow a greater encroachment on rights than you would otherwise allow with a more rational mind.