Keeping the Fear Alive |
Mankind has lived in times of considerably more danger but I doubt that we have every lived in an age of greater fear. We fear the terrorist bomb and the silent pandemic virus. We fear strangers who abduct children and we fear violence on the streets. We fear new ideas and old archetypes. We fear the food we eat, the water we drink and even the air that we breathe. If future historians have to find a label that characterizes our time it will be ‘the age of fear’.
There is a huge disconnect between perception and reality in the west. We are safer, healthier, better-fed and materially more well-off than ever before. We do not live in an age of war or famine or plague. We are more likely to be killed by a lightning strike than a ‘terrorist’ bomb but I see no multi-billion dollar ‘war on weather conditions’. We are more likely to kill ourselves by clumsiness in our own homes than to die at the hands of a criminal on the street. When a child is molested or someone is raped, it is overwhelmingly more likely to be by someone known to them, friend or family, than a violent stranger. We are safer than at any time before but it doesn’t feel like it.
So how did we we sink into such a state of irrational fear ? Anyone who knows even a little history will understand that creating ‘bogey-men’ and controlling the population through fear is a tried and trusted tactic of rulers. The whole over-hyped ‘war-on terror’ falls into that category. ‘Terrorism’ has been used deliberately to replace ‘communism’ as the archetypal ‘enemy without’ threatening to ‘destroy our way of life’. The fear cynically created by the government enabled wholly unrelated wars abroad and draconian curtailment of civil liberties at home. If ‘terrorism’ was eradicated at a stroke tomorrow, I guarantee the government would immediately find another bogey-man to scare people into docility with.
Its not just cynical government using hoary old techniques of fear-mongering though. There’s also the media. We live in an age of 24-hour a day entertainment (and I include most of the news services as entertainment). Nothing catches the public’s interest like a scare story, so in a frenzied battle for ratings and revenue, our newspapers and TV screens are filled with ‘news’ of death, violence and danger. New terrorist threats, new health scares, new global disasters, new violent crime, everything that creates and perpetuates the impression we live in a wild, out-of-control, dangerous world where our very existence is under daily threat. Between cynical government and cynical media, is it any wonder that we live in a constant state of low-grade fear and anxiety ?
Lets put this in perspective and turn the hysteria down a notch or two. For most people, most of the time, life in our western democracies is good. We are generally healthy, safe and well-fed. There is no credible or imminent threat, either external or from within, so great that it can possibly justify giving up the precious civil liberties our forefathers fought and sometimes died for.
Absolute safety for every person in every circumstance is an impossible illusion. Forget it. Refuse to listen to the hysterical voices clamoring every day for us to worry about this or that. Resolve to ignore those with something to gain from keeping the fear alive because they can’t be trusted. Remember that most of the things they told you to be fearful about in the past simply never happened.
Take a deep breath .. live your life .. don’t let them scare you. Its okay ..:)
The Peasants are Revolting
It was Tom Swift and his Electric Rifle published in 1911 that inspired Jack Cover, a NASA researcher to develop the TASER (an acronym for “Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle”) in 1969. The TASER device was completed in 1974.