The Fear Factor

Posted on 18 January 2010


Fear

As we enter a new decade, I ponder our nation’s motivating factor for going forward.  Will it be love, hate, happiness, or fear that drives us?  Given the rotten economy in all its manifestations, ceaseless wars, rising crime, and new threats to our national security, my money’s on fear.

 

Confronted with situations that engender fear, the human body reacts physically: a powerful hormone, adrenalin rushes through our veins, prompting the “fight or flight” response.  In such situations, the majority of us choose the latter; otherwise, we would have obliterated each other from the face of the Earth by now.  The same is true for the animal kingdom.  Highly acute senses clue animals in to approaching danger.  In response, they dig their burrows deeper, transport their young to safer ground, stand and defend their territory tooth and nail — or, like the ostrich, stick their heads in the sand in the hope that the “fear factor” will simply take a hike.

 

Allegedly, God made homo sapiens more intelligent than animals.  Our superior intellect can help us to control our fears, so that we don’t wind up like the at-risk ostrich or the proverbial chicken without a head, ruled by panic and indecisiveness.  If we fear the unknown, it stands to reason that knowledge is our best weapon to combat our terrors.  We must educate ourselves with respect to the issues.  We must conduct our research, including examining our sources to gauge their veracity and reliability.  We must seek out the advice of people who have been in similar situations and who have emerged stronger and wiser.

 

For instance, it’s common knowledge that the Earth is on a crash course with a major meteor in the foreseeable future.  A prevalent theory postulates that it was just such a meteor that caused the dinosaurs’ extinction and the initiation of our last Ice Age.   However, this understanding has led our scientists to craft a viable plan to destroy the heavenly body as it hurtles toward us through space, before it can become a genuine threat to our planet.  Talk about Star Wars!

 

Going back in time, during the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt realized that panic had settled upon our nation.  The collapse of Wall Street resulted in an unprecedented rate of unemployment. For the first time in our history, people lined up in the streets for handouts of staples, like bread and milk.  A “dog eat dog” attitude pervaded our national heart.   Realizing that leadership and hope were critical to averting further disasters, FDR instituted his Fireside Chats.  Families and friends pulled their chairs up to their primary source of communication — radio — to hear FDR’s soothing voice of reason over the airwaves.  Declaring that “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” the President then announced the start of the New Deal.  This mandated governmental regulations for the banking industry and gave birth to the WPA (Works Projects Administration) and the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp).  WPA and CCC were instrumental in providing jobs through which we were able to rebuild our country’s infrastructure.

 

Fear is a double-edged sword.  It can put us on the path to envisioning and enacting positive change, or it can paralyze us into doing nothing and becoming victims.  Knowledge makes all the difference, including discernment between truly great national leaders and those who merely spew rhetoric to gain votes.





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