Fuck the Word! In the beginning there was fear. Fear of the dark, fear of the beasts beyond the campfire, fear of the other tribe, fear of starvation, fear of the thunder and the lightning, fear of death, fear of the unknown, fear of loss, fear of abandonment, fear of difference, fear of love, fear of power, fear of the Church, fear of the Tribe leader, fear of the King, the Emperor, the Government, the Boss. Fear of loss, fear of abandonment, fear of rejection.
Our parents teach us fear even before we understand the meaning of the word. “Don’t wander too far, there’s monsters out there.” “Don’t go in the street, you’ll get run over.” This early fear mongering is forged in order to protect us and teach us to hopefully use judgement, but over time it forms the scaffold over which all our thoughts and decisions are built upon. Fear is coded into our DNA and beyond that, we cultivate it like a permanent crop which we sew into the ploughed soil of our ready psyche and water it with stories of “what if” and “I can’t” until it blooms into a wild stalk of coils and tendrils that invades every part of our foundation disturbing the house and threatening to bring it down with a fertilisation of doubt.
Then there are those that see fit to exploit this innate fear and keep it fed and watered by way of harvesting the fruit of what each fear means to you. Your mom will exploit your fear of dogs to keep you in the house. Your brother will threaten to tell he saw you smoking, and then dad will beat the living daylights out of you. Your boss will cultivate your fear of recession and keep you in the office until 8 p.m; “‘Cause you know, it’s hard out there these days…” The Party will tell you the immigrants are coming to take your jobs and you’ll be left poor and destitute while some person of colour will dance on your grave; the priest will ask you to think of heaven and whether your heart is indeed lighter than a feather.
When fear is exploited and nurtured it finds those with similar fears and your fears merge with theirs and together the fear gains ground and roots down all by itself until it has become a self-sustaining weed crop that spreads and spreads and spreads until it looks like it has always been there. This harvest of terror becomes the only produce which can nourish you and you accept no other fruit or vegetables because they threaten the crop that you’ve built, despite the fact that it might be tastier or more nourishing. Because you also fear losing this crop, and if this goes then what if you don’t like the other vegetables?
Fear is so insidious it disguises itself into principles and ideals, into age old institutions and establishments, the way it’s always been. Why are women not allowed to drive or work in some parts of the world? Probably because the establishment fears they’ll become too independent and threaten the male dominated status quo. Maybe they’ll even prove to be better than men at many things, what then? The paradox of misogyny asks, ‘Why are women good enough to marry and raise your kids but not good enough to hold office or run a company?’
Why are homosexuals not allowed to be free and marry everywhere in the world? Despite conservative fears, they don’t threaten the moral fabric or the foundation of society. They’re already here, they’re just being quiet about it in those places where they’re not allowed to speak up. Homosexuality is not something you can suppress any more than skin colour is. Not letting them live freely will not make them go away, neither will it keep your society “pure.” It’ll just make them angry and unhappy and why must someone be unhappy just because you’re afraid their lifestyle will make your kid ask uncomfortable questions?
Why are we afraid civilization will collapse if “loose morals” are allowed to flourish when it is already haphazardly hanging by the threads of centuries of bad choices and even worse actions? Society isn’t some fortress of moral impenetrability. Babylon is already here and now and the greatest lack of morals does not stem from the people on the ground, but the people in the tower; the people protecting the fat cats, the oil lobbies, the deforestation councils, the CEO’s. They have the greatest ability to change it, but they are most afraid of all, they’re afraid of losing everything they’ve built for themselves in their “pure” communities.
The people on the ground also fear losing what they’ve built for themselves but on a smaller scale. We fear losing our jobs, our homes, our cars, our loved ones, our standard of living and our values so we do what we’re told and we never question our orders. We fear getting old and sick, we fear illness, the big “C;” we fear dying alone or in pain. And when one day when all our worst fears are realised and that doctor confirms what we’ve been dreading to hear all our lives, a light goes off and we wake up; we think of what we’ve been missing, of all the misplaced fears that have blinded us all along and stopped us from being free. Facing our fears brings clarity; it’s the end of the hall and all the doors to the right and left are closed and behind each one hides a fear we’ve fostered and fed. Only it doesn’t matter anymore, all the doors are closed except for the big central one, the biggest fear of all, and it is what it is. You scream and you shout, you deny and yet it still is what it is, until you accept it.
Just before the peace comes…
All our lives we’re told what to do, what to think, what to say for fear of…whatever, but when the fear is faced, the curtain drops, the illusion is exposed.
What would life be like without fear I wonder?