This thought came to me reading the morning news. While I was writing, a friend reported on Facebook an incident which evidenced this very instinct. Google revealed a quote that, “Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is freedom,” by someone named Marilyn Ferguson, and a few paraphrased expressions of the same.
There are the free, and those who fear them. The fearful will seek to ban or restrict the free. The free will seek to persist in the exercise of their freedoms. Sometimes abuse of a freedom increases the ranks of the fearful until the free are constrained due to their flagrancy in use of their freedom.
Americans are by now very familiar with the expression, "Freedom Isn't Free." I also suggest that, "Freedom Isn't Fear." Corollary: "Fear Isn't Freedom." (adding those to my quote page, too; and wouldn't they make great T-shirts?) And I note that most political campaigning seems to focus on telling us to fear, what to fear, and how much to fear. Most political spin control involves tortured explanations of why not to fear, or more often, "Yes, yes, but you should fear the alternative MORE."
I, for one, am tired of being told to fear. In fact, I'm a bit pissed. It start with September 11. With the President, the government as a whole, and the media, explicitly telling us to fear. They even established a color coded system for fear. Maybe DHS called it a threat level. But if the nature of the threat is unclear, and you can't take any action to avoid it, then what good is the warning - it's basically just a fear level indicator. "Experience Fear Level Orange, Now!" Fear was used as a justification for invading countries and infringing our liberties with the Patriot Act. And now fear has become such common parlance, that political expression really seems to have forgotten how to inspire us with positive statements, or articulate comprehensible plans to establish defined objectives.
Fear is powerful because it overwhelms our capacity for logic and critical thinking, and our curiosity. It appeals to the panic centers of our old mammal brains and inspires us to fight or flee, or to herd-like unquestioning behavior. It moves us to tribal formation - teams and political parties - and de-personification of others.
Whenever you're confronted with a message, I implore you to analyze it and ask, "Is this trying to appeal to my sense of fear." And if the answer is yes, I suggest the thing to be feared most may be the proponent of the message.