By Joseph Ellis
Is there a more terrible force on earth than fear? Hatred gives it a good run for the money, as do sociopathic disorders and the like. But fear, like a parasite, is easily transfered from one person to another, destroys a person from the inside out, leads to isolation, and has the power to wipe out whole groups of people. We like to talk about peace and love, yet fear is often a dominant force in our lives, even if it is in control of what we feel is a small portion of our mind.
I think it’s human nature to grow up with fears of the unknown, or the other. Some of us are fortunate to grow up in environments that challenge our presuppositions about other people, and allows for an openness and understanding of differences. However, for those of us who grew up in relative comfort (perhaps especially for us) and were surrounded by like minded (and looking) people, fear creeps in too easily. No one wants what little they have to be taken away, or changed. It’s safe, it’s known, and even if there is something better, it is difficult if it demands giving up what we currently hold.
This is easy to see in our national environment today. It seems most people (except the 10% unemployed) are content with the way things are. Position in life could always be worse, and as long as there is income, food, and shelter to be had, most want our nation, and more specifically our personal lives, to stay the same. Sure, we dream of something better, but we fear change would more than likely mean something worse.
People on the right, left, and in the middle all share these fears. The left fears spending cuts, the right fears socialism, and we all distrust each other’s plans for the future. However, it is precisely this distrust that threatens us the most. The name calling on both sides discloses the out of control fear and vile held for each other; and it is what is keeping us from working together to build a better future.