Fear is why military spending is the sacred lamb in our federal budget, even though we’re the most powerful country in the world, by a long shot, outspending the next thirteen countries combined in military spending.
Fear is why we have the highest incarceration rate (mostly, non-violent offenders) in the world by far, even though the rate of violent crime in this country is the lowest it’s been in thirty years.
Fear is why we respond to our neighbors with tanks, tear gas and snipers, when they cry out in pain and confusion.
Fear is only as powerful as we allow it to be. But if fear is a choice, why are we so afraid? I suggest that, in part, our fear is a product of the age in which we live. Even as the Information Age has blessed us with awareness, it has cursed us with an over stimulation of images and information. We’re a country of information addicts. There is a whole progression which has led us to this place (Local news, Cable News, the OJ trial, Internet access, smart phones, Facebook, Twitter), but regardless, here we are trapped in a cycle of irrational fear over the most remote of possibilities.
So, what can we do? Ironically, to survive the Information Age, I think we all need to “Reboot” regularly. In other words, we should all take periodic breaks from the constant flow of content and reattach to the real world. Start with one day a week of no social media. Once you’ve established that habit, try separating yourself from cable news (Fox, MSNBC, CNN, etc…) on that same day of the week as well. Instead, read a newspaper or magazine (The Atlantic and The Economist come to mind). Sure, they report the news as well, but printed media is less stimulating and allows one to process information with more thought and less emotion. There are other things that come to mind (i.e. not posting ratchet material, for one), but this would be a great start.
Fear tells many lies. But in the end, when we are no more, there will be no mention of any nation, religion or pandemic in our obituary. History has shown us that no great empire succumbs to external threats, they collapse from within (Rome slowly eroded from lead in their water, and Egypt from relentless famines as the Sahara became more arid… hint, hint). For if we parish, it will not be at the sword of another, but rather from a lack of faith in one another. And while in this very moment fear whispers to us that we should pull back, faith calls us to reach out, step out, grab a hold and don’t let go.