in this writer’s opinion, a scared populace is one that is relatively easier to control. people unite in many things, and fear is, unfortunately, one of them. the people of the united states, for better or for worse, seem gripped by fear these days, and it may be our undoing.
in michael moore’s incisive documentary bowling for columbine, he posits that one of the reasons americans are so obsessed with guns is because of a collective sense of fear that we have developed. we fled british oppression to ostensibly establish a colony/country/place where people could believe what they wanted to believe, without fear of reprisal – a noble ideal. and yet from the first days we arrived on these shores, fear has been a part of our lives.
moore argued, rather compellingly, that it began with the indians. we took care of that, more or less, and once we had rid ourselves of these fearful ‘outsiders,’ we began to pursue the practice of slavery, in contrast with our ideals about an egalitarian society. at some point, a split appeared between those who felt this was morally wrong, and those who felt it just. war ensued, along with a (moderate) rise in power among those who had been oppressed. some people now had reason to fear the black masses they had trodden upon for so long. and on things went…
world wars with ferocious dictators. internal unrest, followed by a seemingly triumphant civil rights movement. and then a cold war between the US and communist foes across the ocean. it seemed that we always had something to be afraid of, and today is no different, if one is to believe the media.
the news is now disproportionately splattered with images and thoughts that engender fear – murderous rampages by gun-toting teenagers or postal workers, nameless black criminals prowling and preying in the streets of inner cities, flesh-eating bacterial plagues finding their way from across the sea, killer bees, defective consumer products, poisoned halloween candy…you name it.
and the fears du jour? terrorists. and ruthless dictators bent on US destruction. and smallpox. and showers of ballistic missiles from north korea or iraq or some other ‘rogue’ nation that wants to see our dreams lie in ashes.
do you believe all of these things? do you believe that the threat of smallpox is greater than that of not educating our children properly? or of taking care of our elderly? or of doing what we can to combat starvation in the world? do you think the US government should spend billions on a ballistic missile defense system whose chances of success are, at best, circumspect? do you believe you should forfeit your civil liberties to allow our government to stick their noses into your personal life in pursuit of potential threats to ‘homeland security’?
i’m just asking questions. i’m not saying you should or shouldn’t believe in any of these things. i’m just suggesting that we might be better off if we took a big step back from the rhetoric of a president who is, from my perspective, trying to gain control of the world’s oil supply and secure himself a second term in office.
and if you think i write these words lightly, consider that what i have written has probably now been flagged as worthy of further inspection by echelon or some other homeland security monitoring system.
FDR was right. the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
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