Help, Gentle Reader! I’m in a crisis. Yes, a new one. It’s not categorically new — I’ve been here before — but it’s unprecedentedly intense.
You see, I don’t know what to fear. The choices are too many. The fear-peddlers have overwhelmed my ability to apportion my fear energy. I’m starting to “thrash” in my efforts to fear whatever I’m supposed to fear this week.
I’m supposed to fear the Chinese Lung Rot, the Kung Flu, the General Tsao’s Sickness or whatever it’s being called lately. It’s supposed to be bad, very bad indeed for an old fart like me. But I fear the vaccines too. Wouldn’t you, with all the recent revelations about blood clots as long as your arm and myocarditis in world-class athletes? Which should I fear more?
I’m supposed to fear “global warming / climate change.” I’m told it’ll roast me if I don’t trade my Mercedes S550 for a Tesla this very instant. But I also fear heating oil shortages, to say nothing of exploding batteries and electric grid outages. In the Northeast, choosing among those fears is a toughie.
I’m supposed to fear the emissions from my propane-fueled kitchen stove. Apparently gas-fueled stoves cause
cancer in white rats asthma in young children. Never mind that I’ve entered my eighth decade on this mudball and my wife is close behind me. Should I really value my ability to produce a tasty meal over the pulmonary health of America’s children? What to do, what to do…
I’m supposed to fear the Russians. I know the Cold War is long over, but they’ve invaded Ukraine! If they’re willing to do that, what won’t they do? And that nasty Vladimir Putin has the gall to love his country and put its interests ahead of those of other nations! How can a monster like that be allowed to rule a huge nation? Yeah, yeah, I know: Donald Trump. But still…
I’m supposed to fear a federal default, too. Those evil Republicans are getting ready to freeze the federal debt ceiling. Washington won’t be able to spend our grandchildren’s money freely any longer! The Omnipotent State might have to economize. It might even have to write a budget and stick to it! How can life go on like that?
And that’s not the end of things. Now the New York Times is telling me that I should fear Ron DeSantis! He doesn’t just belittle reporters; he actually ignores them! Great God in heaven, can the Republic function when a state governor blithely ignores the importunings of snotty journalists? I mean, yeah, they hate him with a red passion, but what about “the public’s right to know?”
I’m paralyzed. I can’t decide. It’s just too much.
It’s been a while, so let’s have a few quotes:
No power is strong enough if it labors under the weight of fear. – Marcus Tullius Cicero
Fear always springs from ignorance! – Ralph Waldo Emerson
The basest of all things is to be afraid. – William Faulkner
Fear is an acid which is pumped into one’s atmosphere. It causes mental, moral and spiritual asphyxiation, and sometimes death; death to all energy and growth. – Horace Fletcher
We believe easily what we fear or what we desire. – La Fontaine
“Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past me I will turn to see fear’s path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” – Frank Herbert
The stunning power of fear has long been appreciated by the power-mongers among us – and don’t kid yourself; they’re always among us. If you want to bend a man to your will, making him fear is one of the surest methods. As we are hagridden by a ruling class determined to subjugate us utterly and permanently, we are beset by more trumped-up reasons to fear than ever before in American history.
They’ve chosen well. A fearful people can’t hang on to its rights. A fearful people wants protection – and protectors – above all else. A fearful people who can be induced to fear itself is best of all, for it can be harnessed into the service of the rulers as an enforcement auxiliary.
Apparently, fear has an addictive property. Experiments conducted by the old Soviet KGB indicate that one who has been sufficiently conditioned to fear loses all ability to relax, to trust others, or even to trust himself. Genuinely pervasive fear destroys the connective tissue of a society, such that routine interactions and transactions become moments for unreasoning dread. That was very much to the advantage of the masters of the Soviet system.
The lessons have not been lost on our native power-mongers. However, there’s one lesson with a silver lining: You can’t get everyone to fear the same thing at the same time. And today, one of the more active and vital communities of interest in these United States is the nationwide gun culture. American gun enthusiasts have begun to fear that a serious federal citizen-disarmament initiative is in the works. That’s a plausible thing to fear; the power-mongers fear American gun enthusiasts very much.
What remnants of our historical freedom we retain are due entirely to our being the best armed people in human history. If there’s ever a serious revolt against the excesses of our 88,000-plus governments, our rulers will drown in their own blood. So naturally, they want to strip us of our weaponry…but the attempt is more likely than not to bring about exactly what they most fear.
Hurrah! At last, a fear we can celebrate! More, please!
In Shadow of a Sword, I wrote:
“My mentor liked to say that success breeds failure. You tend to repeat your old, successful moves because they worked, while your enemy is developing a new one to clobber you with. I guess he had a point.”
And it is so. However, the application to our current milieu is unclear. We need a countermeasure to the fear weapon being wielded against us. Do we already possess it, we heavily armed stump-toothed reactionary knuckle-draggers? Can we recapture our country merely by bellowing at the ruling class that “We are no longer afraid. It’s time for you to fear us” — ?
It might just be so…and one of the things I don’t want to fear is that we’ll wait too long to try it.
The “fear quote” from Dune has been a favorite of mine for decades, since I was 12; and discovered Frank Herbert’s work; as well as Frazetta’s cover art. (this was also when I discovered Robert E. Howard, and Jack London) Summer reading on the shore of Green Bay… Brother Fran, I pray you continue to write until I can no longer see to read, you remain one of my vital links to a much missed time of youth and joy, when the world had to get by without my concern.
Trust no one.
A short time ago there was an article in the local newspaper saying we should be resilient against pressure (and how to build up resilience) BUT in the 3rd last paragraph it was said that those who dont fear climate change have too much resilience.
When I read this I was stunned.
So resilience against everything is good but not fearing climate change is evil?