In 1933, at the opening of his first inaugural address, Franklin Delano Roosevelt told the nation, "the only thing we have to fear...is fear itself." These words were uttered at a time when unemployment was at about 25%, and two million Americans were homeless. It's easy to understand how fear could grip the country in such a situation, and why we should be leery of its effects. Fear after all is a powerful emotion that can elicit a fight or flight response, a response that is directly linked to our instinct to survive. Thus fear can also be a powerful influence upon us. It can incite, provoke and encourage behavior. So yeah, we should fear fear.
At a conference I attended recently, writer Rebecca Walker spoke to us about propaganda. She spoke of why we should be wary of it because the action it invokes may not be in our best interest, and her words resonated with me. Propaganda are messages intended to evoke action. Propaganda often relies on an emotional response, and quite often the emotion of choice is fear.
Right now in this country, there is an entire dialogue based in fear. It's the one that told us about Death Panels, American Fascism and the Nuclear Option. It's the dialogue that brought us the Tea Party, the Oath Keepers* and Survival Seeds. These are all the products of fear.
Yes, people are scared, but not rightfully so. They are scared by design. They are being told that in a country with a "free press" in the midst of the Information Age, that they can trust only one side of the story, the "Fair and Balanced" one.
Yes we should fear fear, but we should also be mindful of those who wield it.
*highly recommend this article.