Fear is the antagonist of our freedom. It limits us in several ways, but it’s nasty and vicious, because fear doesn’t just restrict us; it makes us restrict ourselves and we think that it was our idea all along. Hence, we don’t always challenge fear as we should. I’ve already mentioned the impracticality of fear many times, but perhaps not in all of its contexts.
When I was younger, I used to nonchalantly eat fruit from trees hanging over people’s gardens. I would pick berries from brambles and not give it a second thought. Once, when I was walking alongside someone, I reached up to pluck a plum or something similar, and as I raised it to my mouth to devour its sumptuous fructose, my acquaintance, who was not raised in the same places as I was, told me that nomming on it was a terribly stupid idea. ‘After all,’ he pointed out, ‘you don’t know what people have done to their trees over here. They could be poisoned or full of drugs or something.’ Never had I even stopped to consider this before then, and I was almost convinced to stop doing that in future. Alas, hunger outweighs reason sometimes, and I still go around munching things I find, like some kind of vulture. Regardless, what it took me a long time to realise was that, where I was perhaps naïve, I certainly wasn’t living in fear of people’s fruit. And which is worse? Potentially being ill, although unlikely, from such practices? Or never getting to find joy in it?
There are many risks we take throughout our short time on this planet, some voluntarily, and others not so much. We’re often unaware of the dangers we face, and in this, perhaps ignorance is bliss in that we don’t fear the consequences of our actions. There is perhaps a line of moderation to draw between awareness and panic, and defining that line can be difficult. Awareness of danger and confident dismissal thereof simply to spite it plays an important role in my day-to-day life, and it’s not always wise, for sure. Driving without a seatbelt is unnecessarily dangerous, since the act of wearing one tends not to destroy your sense of self or damage you in any way. On the other hand, there are some dangers which do.
Let me point you in the direction of the media. When you hear that so many places have been attacked by terrorists or there’s so much knife crime in certain parts, and you assimilate that information, it’s easy to panic and worry yourself to death. You may find yourself checking that you’ve locked the door ten times a day for seemingly no reason, but there is a reason. You feel unsafe, you experience fear in every minute of your existence, simply because it was decided somewhere either in an office or on a golf course (or perhaps in an underground lizard den, as some crazy people have informed me) that this week, your phobia will be HOME INVASION. Tune in next week for a fear of people who are slightly taller than average, because statistics show conclusively that they’re all serial killers because of a graph someone made online. Let me make you angry about immigration and then make you angry at the people who want to control it better. Let me make you sad about the world and then tell you to cheer up. Let me advertise diabetes to you and then sell you insulin. It’s everywhere, it’s small-talk, it’s what everyone discusses deeply. We’re constantly asking others’ opinions about things that are happening; some of us for reassurance, some of us to try and back up what we already think about it, but rarely do we just leave it be.
Russia might kill us all, live in constant fear.
Terrorists might behead your loved ones like they did to these journalists and civilians. Be afraid.
China might take over the world economically, your country will no longer be able to function financially because it won’t be competitive anymore. You will die on the street.
Some virus may have been engineered specifically to kill you, stay in bed, stay by yourself, don’t interact with anyone, be alone. Why are you depressed? It’s probably your fault.
Video games make people murderers. Be overprotective of your kids so that they hate you. Oh, they’re still murderers? Huh, weird. Probably the water you made them drink.
Drink more water.
The water is polluted.
Ocean levels are rising, polar bears are scary, polar bears are dying, ice caps are melting, air is being polluted. It’s your fault, personally. What do you mean oil spill? That was your fault because you buy petrol.
Everyone you ever respected is a paedophile. You’re a paedophile. Sicko.
Polluted air gives you cancer. Smoking gives you cancer. Saucepans give you cancer. Unaired furniture gives you cancer. Tanning beds give you cancer. The Sun gives you cancer. The internet gives you cancer. Bread and cheese will kill you. Cancer gives you cancer.
You cannot move, breathe or think without fear. Especially think. If you have thoughts which aren’t conformist to whatever flavour of the week we have on your TV, we will send police to arrest you, and we probably won’t do anything to protect you from the mob at your door.
As it happens, there’s a growing sense of resentment amongst the population for the things we’re forced to accept. I am aware that people are inherently racist, and that’s just nature. We, as humans, can overcome that in society, and be civil. Some of us cannot or choose to remain too prejudiced in that respect, and that is wrong. It’s wrong in the sense that we mustn’t judge an individual because of his or her background, ethnicity or gender. At the same time, what people fail to understand is that we can dislike individuals from certain minorities if that person is an ass. We’re reminded that anyone who says anything ‘offensive’ (which is also a net cast too wide) must be criticised and ostracised and cast out of our society. You have to love all the minorities and give them all hugs and kisses and perhaps even a thousand pound grant for attending university. Why? Because they deserve it for being born. Seems racist to me to treat people differently simply because of their race, undermining the entire concept that’s being defended.
Being forced to do something is bad. We don’t, mostly, like it. Where is our sense of freedom? Being forced to think a certain way? Many folk compare our age to 1984, and it becomes truer and truer by the day. If we have a thought that seems controversial, we can’t express it without fear of repercussion. Not just criticism, but meaningful, impactful disadvantages such as losing a job, losing friends who might just not want to be seen to not disapprove of some new and original idea, being fined, being arrested and sent to prison for thinking. This goes to the extreme point of self-regulation of thought. We can have an ‘antisocial’ thought, and we might find, quite often in my case, that we interrupt ourselves thinking it because it’s wrong and socially unacceptable, almost as if someone is listening. But it’s a thought. We live in fear of thinking wrong. Our fear of expression demolishes our freedom of expression, and our fear of thought annihilates our freedom of thought. So much so, that we’re being filed down to pegs which will fit the holes of the media’s pockets. We’re losing our individuality, our liberty to be human beings for no reason other than these people’s obligation to make us afraid.
Do the media care about certain rights? Of course not, however, they do certainly care about finding any tactic to suppress our voice. If that means pretending to be on the side of minorities in order to bombard us all with opinions about what’s right and wrong, forcing you to question what you’ve thought your whole life because a handful of people say so, making you think differently and wearing down all of the personality out of you so that you end up discussing the news and events with people in order to receive reassurance and comfort knowing that your world around you also pretend just as hard as you that they’re not pretending as hard as you.
Suppression of thought will no doubt lead to more resentment and social instability. There’s only so far people will be willing to take it before more and more get on board with a few opposing voices to the current state of affairs until there is potentially violent civil unrest. And where will the media be when that happens? Right at the middle of it, telling you all to be afraid of your own neighbours in case they burn down your house. Be afraid.
How do we fight the war on thought? It’s simple, almost. Be aware of what’s happening to you. Whence your fears come and why. And, simply, don’t be afraid. Fight fear with fearlessness. Don’t panic. Accept the world; it has flaws, mostly due to human activity, sure, but you can help that by being a good person and hoping that others might learn something from you.
To resist is to exist.
I’m not suggesting that minorities deserve the abuse they can often get from sheer arseholes who think that race and creed makes one somehow superior to another. People can be smart, dumb, ambitious, fearful, logical and crazy, regardless of all of that. There is racism and sexism in the world, but if we actually wanted to do anything about it, we would raise awareness and let voices be heard. Instead we’re capitulating to these voices and surrendering our very freedom that we allegedly take away from them. Equality isn’t special treatment. Special treatment will breed resentment and make everyone hate everyone. We can’t allow that to happen, and of that, everyone is individually responsible. You are accountable for the actions you take for or against other people. We can all help each other if we weren’t so angry all the time. As a wise jedi grandmaster once said “Fear leads to anger [and excessive fear is the result of the media’s manipulation of our society].” Yes, I’m paraphrasing a little bit.