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:
The 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.