Archives For fear

2014-08-24_13-14-19The white majority in the U.S. will be outnumbered by Americans of other races by 2042, eight years sooner than previously projected by the Census Bureau.

SOURCE: U.S. White Population Will Be Minority by 2042, Government Says – Bloomberg.

The year 2042 strikes abject fear into some of us. Particularly those who are associated with groups with three letters in the title. That is the year that people of color will outnumber whites in the United States. Why is it that so many are so afraid of being a minority?

For twenty-five years now I have been in a pretty small minority. Only about 1% of the U.S. population is deaf and I am one of them. I go through months at a time without ever seeing another deaf person but I live with the consequences of being deaf every single day. Before I became a member of this somewhat exclusive minority I to had an abject fear of it. But it turns out that being a minority is not as bad as I imagined. It is not great but not totally bad either.

So, why do so many fear going from 51% to 49%? What is it about that number that get to us? Of course a big part of that is the perceived loss of power. They would no longer be masters of our own fate. It’s nice to be the guy in control of things. To turn that over in any degree is a scary thing. What if “they” decide to do it differently than I want?

But then again most of us are in a minority now in one regard or another. Being a progressive in Indiana puts me in a distinct minority. I loathe many of the things that my governor does; he just seems to be a guy without much compassion for others, especially those much different from him.  But my life for the most part goes on despite being a minority in several different areas. Sharing power is not at bad as many imagine.

We may come to the point where no political party will have a majority status and will therefore be forced to form a coalition government made up of different minorities. But then again that is pretty much what at least the Democratic party is now. There are those Democrats who want abortion on demand and those who would like to see it go away entirely. There are those who just want government out of their lives and then there are those who think government is shirking its responsibility of doing the people’s business.

All I can say to all those out there who are in abject fear of becoming a minority is that it is not as bad as you imagine. Spreading the power around is enabling, not disabling, as a country as well as on a personal level. Try it out , you might like it.

A Life Half Lived….

July 28, 2014

2014-05-08_08-01-53You want to be free. And as you start to feel that you are being corralled into a certain life, you kind of push against it. It may come out very strange, it may be interpreted wrong, but you’re trying to find out who you are.”….she lived with a deep fear of leading a “life half-lived.”

“I realized that very young — that a life where you don’t live to your full potential, or you don’t experiment, or you’re afraid, or you hesitate, or there are things you know you should do but you just don’t get around to them, is a life that I’d be miserable living, and the only way to feel that I’m on the right path is just to be true to myself, whatever that may be, and that tends to come with stepping out of something that’s maybe safe or traditional.”

SOURCE: Angelina Jolie Didn’t Think She’d Have Kids, Says Her 20s Were ‘Misinterpreted’ | Yahoo Celebrity – Yahoo Celebrity.

Angelina Jolie has always fascinated me. She is such an assertive person and a contrarian to boot. I like that combination. She knows what she wants and she goes after it.  It takes a very strong person to “want it all” but she among few others seems to be almost able to accomplish that feat. Like everyone that I admire to any degree I’m sure there are things about her that if I knew them I would not like but that’s OK. None of us are perfect.

Do any of us lead a life more than half lived? With the wisdom I have gained from almost seven decades on this earth I seriously doubt that I have.  There were so many opportunities that I had that I passed up due to not wanting to get out of my box. Fear, or maybe just trepidation, held me back. I think I am pretty usual in that regard.

I fear that we are stifling those who have a full potential at a very young age now. I fear that we are denying ourselves the next Einstein, Madam Curie, Steve Jobs, or a myriad of other examples. From my study of Yin/Yang and American culture I have learned that one of the things that makes us stand out as a nation is our “can do” spirit.  We simply are not willing to accept our limits.  It seems that anyone of our kids who now steps out of the normal accepted bounds is quickly pushed back via drugs or verbal assault.

I wished I had had a deep fear of leading a life half-lived as Ms. Jolie has. It would have forced me to make other choices in my life. There are many things that I seem to be passionate about but few that I am actually willing to take the risk to achieve at any higher level. I haven’t given up in that regard but time is running out for me. Let’s make sure that those who are beginning their lives have the fear that Angelina has. It will make the world a better place if at least a few of us don’t accept a life half lived…

 

2014-06-26_11-57-11This is going to be one of my soapbox posts so be warned.

Iraq is back in the news now with the latest insurgence. It seems the Shiite Muslims just don’t want to go down without a fight and the Sunni Muslims who now have most of the power don’t want to give their rivals any breathing room. Civil war is the logical conclusion where one religious group is battling another. History has certainly seen a lot of these type of wars.

Let’s flash back to the year 2000 when Saddam Hussein had iron fist control of the country. There was relative peace at least if you were a Shiite and for the most part Sunni. The dictator did now allow the drug trade or Al Qaeda into the country that his enemy often Afghanistan promoted.  There was a general peace among the populace and IEDs were unheard of. Yes, it appears to be true that Hussein did kill about 3,000 of his citizens over some perceived control things.  He insisted that he have ALL the power in the country and for the most part he did.

Then comes 2003 when President Bush decided that the leader of Iraq was developing nuclear weapons and was responsible for much of the current Al Qaeda movement.  It turns out that both of these things were grossly false but we invaded anyway. As a consequence over 150,000 Iraqi citizens have been killed and many more maimed.  Now that we have left, a religious civil war is in the process. By any standards we have made life much more miserable for the vast majority of people of that country.

Another devastating fact of that war is that we have lost about 4,500  of our kids  and seriously maimed another 32,000. No, it was not as lethal as Vietnam which was the war of my generation but still too many kids’ lives were extinguished in a totally unnecessary manner.  A famous saying that I will paraphrase is that we wonder why when we continue to do the same thing over and over again we don’t get a different result. Why can’t the leaders of one generation learn from those who went before them?

It is likely that no matter how many years we continue to throw our kids lives and our wealth into that country the final result will be the same.  Sectarian violence will rule out and Iraq will likely split into two or more religious theocracies.  In the end it comes down to which version of God you want to follow. I don’t think that is what God intended us to do when he created the universe…. Shame on us for allowing it to happen….

 

Fear vs. Love….

May 25, 2014

A theology based on this fear seldom inspires great acts of compassion and service. When we live in constant fear of divine rejection, we focus all our attention on securing our survival. Sadly, this self-absorption only leads us further from love. Fear and love are incompatible. Fear indicates our distrust of the one who claims to love us. A child trembles when a parent threatens, “If you don’t behave, I’ll send you away.” A wife is terrorized when a husband warns, “If you leave me, I’ll kill you.” Human beings cower when God commands, “Serve me, or I’ll damn you to hell.”

Where fear is encouraged, love withers. Human beings cower when God commands, “Serve me, or I’ll damn you to hell.” Where fear is encouraged, love withers.

Gulley, Philip; Mulholland, James (2009-10-13). If God Is Love

I will admit up front that Philip Gulley is one of my favorite authors. His Quaker roots and belief align with my current worldview.  There are some branches of Christianity that base their doctrine and dogma on the fear of God.  I at one time found this theology to be somewhat enticing to bringing people to Christianity.  Fear is one of the strongest emotions in humanity.  Much of what our current political parties do is based on fear. They use it because they know how powerful it is.

As cited by Mr. Gulley above fear and love are in reality almost opposites when it comes to human emotions. It is inconceivable that a God who says he loves us with one breath would then condemn us to an eternity of torment with the next one simply because we might be too ornery to accept his love. I have thrown away the concept of fearing God for the idea that God loves us with agape love and will eventually, in his own time, take every one of us into his arms.

 

Prosecutors had accused the two officers, who approached Thomas near a bus depot in July 2011 to question him about reports of vandalized cars, of turning a routine police encounter into an unnecessary and savage beating that cost the unarmed homeless man his life.

Attorneys for Ramos and Cicinelli argued that Thomas was dangerous and that the officers responded according to their training. Defense lawyers also said Thomas suffered from a weakened heart brought on by drug abuse.

“These peace officers were doing their jobs, operating as they were trained,” said John Barnett, who represented Ramos. “There was no malice in their hearts that night.”

SOURCE:  Ex-California policemen acquitted in beating death of homeless man – Yahoo News.

I certainly don’t know all the facts about this incident but I do remember watching a few minutes of the video capturing it.  From that it seemed like the police officers were simply stomping and beating on someone who was just lying on the ground screaming for help.  Of course this is not the first time officers of the law have killed unarmed men. It seems to happen almost weekly.

For that reason, the first feeling that comes to my mind when I encounter a policeman is trepidation and maybe even fear. The main reason for that is because I can envision a time when I will be stopped by an officer who could shot me because I am deaf and couldn’t hear what he commanded me to do. I can remember another incident where someone was simply reaching in his pocket for a cell phone was shot seven times. These incidents scare me! I even remember an incident several years ago when a deaf man was severely assaulted by a police officer who was unaware of his hearing impairment.

I know a police officer has a right to defend him/herself when they feel they are in danger but I also fully realize that most officers have had very little if any training in encountering someone with hearing loss. I certainly deeply appreciate and respect what they go through on a daily basis to keep our streets safe but unfortunately that does not ameliorate my fear…

I Am Weird…..

November 14, 2013

FearI admit up front that for my generation It seems I am just weird. I am the first of the baby boomers and I am now officially a senior citizen. Being a senior citizen I am told by the media that:

  • I must fear change when in fact I embrace it.
  • I must fear the changing demographics when in fact I celebrate it.
  • I must fear immigrants when in fact I am more than happy to see them come.
  • I must fear the loss of morality when in fact I see much of that as someone else’ version of morality.
  • I must fear a lack of security when in fact I think our obsession for it causes more insecurity.

I guess I am just a weird person who doesn’t fit the mold society is trying to put me in. I continue to have at least some level of optimism about our ability to accept changes and to quit being so fearful about so much. 

About Fear & Hate….

February 14, 2013

Banner - About Life

hateI want to add one further thought about fear while it is fresh on my mind.  There is another basic emotion that outweighs fear as being more destructive to any person or society and that is hate. What little hate I have been exposed to in my life truly scares me. It is a dark side of life that I don’t ever want to get to know on anything but a superficial level.

Every once in a while I will glance through my spam queue  on this blog to get a feeling of what the trollers are ranting about. Ninety percent of the time what they seem to say is based on fear or hatred at one level or another.  It seems that hatred is endemic in their lives.  I’m sure they expect me to hate them back for their mostly spiteful words they call me but in reality I try my best to do just the opposite. I pray that they find some peace in their lives and that their hatred does not consume them as it seems to do to so many.

It troubles me that so many people in this world seem consumed by fear, anger, and hatred. I believe that all three of these emotions are critically linked. Much of the feelings that probably start out as fear develop into anger and then finally caustically end up in hatred. I don’t believe that hatred is something that any of us are born with. Love and hate are choices that we make in our lives. Most chose some level of love but unfortunately some poor souls go the hate path instead.

It seems impossible to even begin to have a dialog with those who are driven by almost any level of hate. I just don’t want to be exposed to even the superficial level that I find in some anonymous comments.  If I thought there was even an iota of a change to ameliorate some of the hatred I sometimes see in that queue I might be tempted to begin a dialog with some of them but from past experiences I have found any attempt futile. That is why they automatically end up on the spam queue.

Fear and especially hate are such destructive emotions it is down right scary to be exposed to it. It is truly the dark side of life! I’m sure this post will bring out a few of those who are filled with hate. All I will say to you is that I love the person who is underneath that veil of hatred if only you would let him out once in a while you would see the world is not as dark or scary or evil as you are convinced it is.

These last four posts have been emotionally draining for me so I am going to try to stay on the light side for a few days. God bless all my readers, even those who are currently filled with fear, anger, and hatred…..

Banner - About Life

Fear 2This is my last post about fear at least for a little while. It has run its course in my mind. I want to finish up here with some personal thoughts about fear and the consequences of fear.  I will then close out with a fear that I just can’t seem to understand.

I must say that I am generally not a fearful person. That is I don’t rise each day being in fear for what it will bring. I don’t anticipate the bad things that could happen to me each day.  Don’t get me wrong, I know fear has its proper place in each of us. We must be aware of dangers around us.  Soon I will be getting in my car and heading out for one of me weekly volunteer times at a local soup kitchen and homeless shelter. When I get in the car I will not be going 100 mph down the State road between here and there.  Two kinds of fear will prevent that from happening. One is that I would likely get into an accident and the other is that I would probably get a reckless driving ticket.

I know I have to be aware that many in the shelter where I am going are felons and some are probably mentally unbalanced to one degree or another but that does not mean that I must avoid them or carry a gun to protect myself from them.  I have learned over the last nine years that these guys are pretty much like all of us except maybe they made a mistake that landed them in prison or caused them to falter under a drug addiction.  Many have tattoos that would intimidate some. Yes, I must be aware of possible danger but it will not prevent me from seeing them as friends and needing a little help in life. I will see them as children of God, just like me.

The type of fear that I really can’t understand is in the fourth definition in the first post on this series and that is the “Fear of God”.  Yes, I am very aware that God holds my fate in his hands from second to second. I know he is an awesome God with powers beyond my comprehension. But I also believe that he created me in his image and has an agape love for me.   Love for, not a fear of God, is the driving force in my life. Yes, I am in awe of God and all I can really do is to try to return some of that infinite love he has for me back to him by doing things that he told me to do and that primarily is to love Him and to love my fellow-man, all of them. Everything else I will leave to his grace. It will be up to God to decide what my state will be after I leave this earth but that does not strike fear in my heart.

Ok, that is it on the topic of fear for me. I hope you weren’t totally bored by my mini-dissertation…..

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FearThis is a continuation of the topic of fear and how it drives so much of our country and world.

I have been cruising some of the “gun rights” websites lately.  The reason I am paying attention to this group is to try to understand the thoughts and mentalities of the people in them and how fear appears to play such a strong part of their adamant refusal of any kind of gun regulation.

It appears that many from this group have a basic fear of their fellow citizens. They just don’t trust anyone they don’t know. They see bad guys around every corner. They think they need a lethal weapon to protect their families for the almost imminent invasion of their homes. In other words they are a paranoid group with a very negative view of mankind. They see the worst in everyone. They call those of us who are not driven by their overwhelming fear naive as to the real world. They say we just don’t “get” it.

Most of the other ninety-five percent of us outside these gun rights groups see all the damage done to this country by the preponderance of guns in our culture and we can’t understand why the gun rights groups can’t see what their almost idolatrous  attachment on guns have done to our country.  We see all the innocent people being shot down daily on our city streets. We mourn all the seemingly unending massacres happening today and mourn all the loss of so much innocent life. We see the unending supply of guns in this country purchased with drug money flooding across the border into Mexico making the drug cartels even more powerful than the police.

But I think one of the most basic differences between many of the gun folks and the rest of us is that at one level or another, we are more likely to help out a stranger than to point a gun at him.  Our first inclination is to give someone that seems down on his luck a helping hand. We just don’t have that underlying fear of the unknown or unseen that they seem to have.

We are a country that is currently divided into many different factions and many of these opposing groups are primarily driven by fear. They see everyone they don’t know as a possible attacker. How do we convince these fearful people of the damage their obsession with guns is doing to all of us?

From past experiences one thing you won’t hear from this group is an admittance that they are fearful. They will proudly say that guns eliminate their fears because now they can take out anyone who will surely be attacking them. Fear is such a powerful motivator for division and mistrust.

Am I putting all gun enthusiasts in the same basket? Absolutely not! I understand that there are many, if not most, who are willing to have things like universal background checks and some sensible gun regulations. But, like it or not, the leadership of the NRA is currently the face of all gun owners. Until the responsible owners come out from behind that group they will continue to be identified with that radical organization.

About Fear…. Its Causes??

February 11, 2013

Banner - About Life

Fear is as engrained in us as any of our emotions. I guess it goes back to our caveman days of fearing for our lives in a very dangerous world. For some odd reason I have been thinking about fear lately and how it affects so many parts of our lives. So, I decided to spend three posts here talking about this subject.

Lets start of with the basic definition of fear:


1. a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid. 


2.  a specific instance of propensity for such a feeling: an abnormal fear of heights.


3.  concern or anxiety; solicitude: a fear for someone’s safety.


4.  reverential awe, especially toward God: the fear of God. 

In the first post I want to get into some recent history and current conditions that maybe foster this epidemic of fear that just seems so endemic in our lives now. I don’t even think it was as prominent in the Cold War days as it is now. What are a few of the possible causes of this increase in fear among us in the last decade or two:

fear 3The twenty-four hour news cycle – A big part of it is maybe the twenty-four hour news cycle that came about because of cable and satellite TV.  It seems in order to fill an entire channel with twenty-four hours of program many news channels almost try to incite a riot between different groups. They know that “if it bleeds, it leads” and the blood can be psychological as well as physical.  The other major contributing factor in this area is the birth of Fox News and MSNBC along with talk radio.  When people can get all their news with one particular slant and never be exposed to alternatives it breeds partisanship.

Our military standing in the world – When the Berlin Wall fell in the 1980s it led to the U.S. being the sole superpower in the world. Our decision to then become the “policemen of the world” has led antipathy among other countries. And all the recent drone attacks on different countries have stricken fear into their citizens thinking their family may be next just because some “bad guy” happens to be in the adjacent building. We now spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined and that also leads to ill will and corresponding terrorist threats and therefore fear.

The changing demographics of the country – It was recently reported that the majority of our citizens are no longer white Anglo-Saxon as has been the case throughout our history. We are truly becoming a diversified nation. The loss of majority power is a very threatening thing to some. To believe that they are no longer in control of their destiny makes some very fearful.

The near economy meltdown of 2007 – But maybe the start of this economic fear was in the 1980s when employees became liabilities to employers instead of assets as they were before that. The near meltdown in late 2007 and the corresponding rise in unemployment struck fear in many of us. We are no longer sure of our ability to keep a job, have a secure retirement, or have any form of economic security.

Any and all of these factors may have contributed to the apparent rise in fear among many different groups today. Next time I will try to give some examples of how fear has manifested itself to the detriment of our society.