Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Disgusting Use of Fear

We all have fears. I certainly do. Understanding my fears and learning how to relegate them to their proper place is a principle focus (among others) of my spiritual journey. However, I believe it is immoral, crass and disgusting to “milk” or exploit someone’s fears in order to achieve a personal advantage.
According to everything I’ve recently read, we are in for a very dirty, very mean-spirited, very fear-inducing presidential campaign. Both camps are gearing up to scare the beejezus out of us.
Republicans would have us believe that America is going to Hell in a hand-basket unless we elect more of them and try to turn back the clock to a non-existent simpler time. Democrats would have us believe that unless we donate to them (so they can run fear inducing Republican-style ads to win more Democrats), the US will revert to a 19th Century Dickins-style of unbridled capitalism depicted in Oliver Twist.
I’m going to focus on the Republicans because they are in the spotlight right now.
The following quote is from an interesting article entitled: Are Conservatives More Fearful Than Liberals? (By Emily Badger,, Posted on February 5, 2012, Printed on February 6, 2012

“The tone of this year’s Republican presidential primary (which now seems destined to last much longer than Mitt Romney had been planning) seems sort of, well, fearful. One after the other, these would-be presidents have warned of looming threats — war with Iran, economic collapse, class warfare, social disintegration, illegal immigration — and have sought to position themselves as the best candidate for the job of protecting America.
“Their political advisers must understand a psychological phenomenon that researchers have been studying for some time now: conservatives appear to be motivated by fear in a way that liberals are not. An expanding body of research suggests that Republicans and Democrats differ on some fundamental level in how they respond to positive and negative stimuli. A new study, published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, adds even more evidence to the theory that these two groups quite literally see the world differently.”
To spot this kind of fear mongering, all I have to do is look at the boogey-man-under-the-bed words that are used to frighten me: Socialist; Muslim; Unpatriotic; Non-Christian; Pacifying; Unbiblical. When I see or hear these kinds of words, I am reminded of the story of an old country preacher who had died. He was very well-known throughout a 7-State region, often invited to preach at revivals and speak at conventions. His children were looking through his handwritten sermons thinking maybe they could get them published. Many of his sermons had marginal notations and the most curious, repetitive notation they saw was: “Very, very weak point. Be sure to shout!”
The relevance of the marginal message in the preacher’s sermons? If you have little to say, then focus on invigorating the perceived fears of your audience. Once you have your audience scared witless, then hope to high Heaven they don’t actually begin to really think about what you’ve glossed over.
For example, after the State of the Union speech, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels delivered the Republican rebuttal. During his speech he referred to Steve Jobs (Apple’s late CEO) as creating more jobs than the Stimulus package, which was begun by Bush and continued by Obama (although Daniels forgot about the Bush part). It was a very misleading statement. It all depends on what considerations are chosen to be considered in calculating the numbers. He went on to say, however, Apple had created over 700,000 jobs. True. Then he stopped. What he didn’t say was that only about 62,000 of those jobs were created in the USA. Well over 600,000 were created overseas, primarily in China. Please note: my numbers may be a little off – I’m writing from memory.
Politicians of all persuasions want to give some accurate facts, some misleading, tangential information, and lead us in a way that we arrive at an erroneous conclusion. This way they can say they didn’t lie to us – we simply misunderstood.
The Republicans are making all these accusations about socialism, venerating capitalism in all its forms, painting every Muslim as a terrorist, marginalizing Hispanics, decrying the death of a potential baby via abortion, while cheering mass bombings and executions and booing references to Jesus’ 2nd Commandment – the Golden Rule. What they don’t say is how this is any different from the Republican platform under 8 years of Bush II – a period that led us to the most devastating economic meltdown since the Depression. They seem to be implying that the same policies that broke the system 4 years ago will now fix the system. But they won’t address that. They know it’s a weak point – so they shout! Their shouting aims to demonize Obama enough that we’ll be so frightened we’ll vote for anyone but him – without really thinking.
I don’t buy it. Neither should you.
As I said earlier, I’m not just picking on the Republicans. It’s just that they have the main stage now. Later, as the General Election heats up, I’m convinced we’ll see similar rhetoric from the Democrats. Both parties will be counting on the fact that we will be so scared we will not notice what they’ve glossed over.
I think the point I’m trying to make in this message is to be aware and to be careful. I do believe the Conservative side of the election equation will be more blatant in the use of fear-mongering. They’ve gotten very good and effective at it. For conservatives their politics have become meshed with their religious beliefs – good conservative republicanism is virtually indistinct from Christian morals. The danger in this is that religious fervor opens the door to a policy of “the end justifies the means.” For example, in Tennessee the conservatives want to return to the Constitution so badly they have passed State laws (to prevent voter fraud, which has been demonstrated to occur about 0.01% of the time) to restrict voting rights, which violate the Constitution.
But, rest assured, this is not just a Republican issue. Both sides will use it. Be alert.
I have my own political persuasions, as do you, and I’m not here to debate these. I am aware that my attachment to my political beliefs – I am right. If only everyone else could be convinced of my view, the world would be a better place – only gives tremendous power to the world I perceive – the world of my Ego; the world of Fear and Judgment. This reinforces my ego-belief that I am a human being who has a soul, rather than the Truth: I am an already loved eternal spirit, currently having a human experience.
I will vote, as I hope you do, but I will try my best not to vote based solely on my fears or my attachment to the universe I’ve created between my ears. This is not easy and my answers for me will not be your answers for you. As we watch the election process unfold, it’ll be tough to decide what it means for us to be IN the world without being OF the world. [It’s always okay to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance – then still your mind so you can listen for His whispers]
Thanks for listening, as always. Please share this message with your friends or family.
#2 February 2012

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