Wednesday, June 15, 2016

It's The Fear Stupid!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The media is quite lit up these days with all the horror of what happened in Orlando, Florida this past weekend. And then there is ISIS. And we also have the issue of Syrian refugees overwhelming the hospitality of European nations. We have ocean acidification occurring as we continue to pump more greenhouse gases into our atmosphere. We have a real estate mogul running to become President of the United States. And somehow part of his appeal for some people is his practice of insulting basically everyone that can be insulted. There is also dandruff, litter in the streets (and strewn on our coastlines) and the lives of Hollywood celebrities to breathlessly follow. No wonder we are such a worried society. We have a 24 hour news cycle culture and somehow do not uniformly think it's unhealthy to constantly be barraging ourselves with the fearful shadowy forms of the latest thing the media tells us will kill us.

I am being a bit hyperbolic. But as I have read some of the coverage of the worst things happening in the world lately I can't help but feel that the media, well at least the American media, is something akin to a vast echo chamber where horrifying stories get repeatedly recycled for consumption. We hear a story and then we hear it retold by numerous commentators, talking heads, pundits and others. We have people as patently creepy as Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter telling us what to think about any number of issues. And I always wonder to myself "Who are these people?" Who are these people whose sense of morality is so adrift or completely absent that they will whore themselves out and spread all manner of disinformation with the intent of misleading the American public. They are like those creepy flying monkeys the wicked witch had at her beck and call. Those monkeys essentially had no minds - they served without thought or reflection.

Put more concisely - it's the fear, stupid! Fear is such a big seller in America. We fear growing old. We fear disability. We fear isolation and alienation. We fear any number of things. And we have a whole complex network of industries in this nation designed to fill us up and assuage those fears. And I certainly think this pervasive fear is part of what drives the immense machine of the gun culture in this nation. People want to be and feel safe. They watch upsetting news and decide to gird themselves against the possibility of being harmed by arming themselves as much as possible. Combine this paranoia with deeply warped conceptions of manhood and you see all manner of bizarre spectacles in this country. You see a culture like what is found in Texas: paranoia, mindless worship of weaponry, a deep need to provide evidence of prowess through public display of said weaponry (even if doing so leads children who witness such 'manly' men to wet their pants in fear!) and immense fear of that evil Other.

Wow, I am so grateful I escaped that state when I finished college.

The basic point I am trying to make in what might be construed to be a stream of rambling thoughts is that victimization, and the fear of being victimized, seems to drive so much of human behavior...and especially American behavior. And I cannot help but wonder what all the roots of this deep seated feeling of victimization are.

I have reflected elsewhere in my blog on issues such as gun violence and victimization. It's a topic that provides a lot of material for consideration in this nation.

I'll leave you with these thoughtful questions tonight:

  • Who would you be without a personal victim story? 
  • What could our nation be without buying into Donald Trump's contention that America is in decay (as evidenced by his slogan of "Make America Great Again")? 
  • What could we as a society be if we didn't look to others to be our own personal messiahs?

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