Escaping the Culture of Fear

Fear reigns, fear of body odor, fear of bankruptcy, fear of acne, fear of anybody who looks out of place. We live in a culture of fear, every ad plays on one fear or another, fear driven consumption fills the malls and fear drives gun sales through the roof. Gunmakers have accommodated each new wave of fear with the appropriate revolver or semiautomatic.

Fear of the unknown reigns supreme, the 'other' is unknown, 'they' are unknown. Fear divides, us and them, Hatfields and McCoys, you're either with us or you're against us. It doesn't have to be, it's all in what you see. We live in a time and place where problems associated with uncertainty and risk are seen through the prism of fear. Fear leaves little room for the exercise of free will.

Today everybody everywhere grieves for the innocent victims in Tuscon, prays for Congresswoman Gifford and would like to strangle the SOB who did it, me too. The shooter is a nut not a domestic terrorist. Overheated rhetoric and nearly non-existent gun laws don't send the rest of us out to massacre at the mall. He did it, he planned it, he's a nut. Ya can't blame Sarah Palin, ya can't blame Obama or anybody else.

The problem is us, we, who should be united, allow ourselves to be controlled, divided and manipulated by fear. Fear worked well for our ancestors when they needed to run from a predator or avoid the rising flood, but this ancient, occasionally useful, tool, this servant, has been turned into straight jacket. Our ancestors also saw themselves as a part of the world just as the lion and the flood are. They saw no 'other'. Freedom isn't fear, its the lack of it. Freedom is joy, freedom is peace and confidence that we are all, flora-fauna-microbes-minerals-forces and faeries, in this together.