Fear is a primal, animal response. The sudden thudding of your pulse in your throat, dry lips and clammy hands, the panic rising in your chest making you jump at every sound. I believe that fear is an important and necessary part of life. Fear is that voice in your head that looks down from a cliff and says, “watch for rocks.” An intuition driven by the evolutionary need to keep ourselves safe from the world around us.
Terror is different. I have felt terror. Suffering from anxiety and depression I have felt terror for what some people would call stupid reasons. I am very lucky to have been in few situations where true terror was justified. I am also very lucky to have found a way to work through most of my anxieties. Many people in the world live in fear for their lives every single day. Whether it is a starving family wondering where their next meal will come from or a refugee fleeing from their war-torn country, these people live on less than we in the west consider basic living.
It isn’t entirely fair to say that only people in horrific situations have things to fear. What is bothering me is the fear-mongering and hatred that is being used as a tactic to win votes. One of the only downsides of living in Canada is the privilege of watching American politics whether we want to or not. There are six months left in the American election and I have already exhausted all of the time and worry that I care to on the subject. The hatred and violence being stirred up by Trump and his followers should be a bright red warning flag to the rest of the country.
I watch from afar, like so many others, and I am baffled by the response to his blatant bigotry and hypocrisy. Driving the public to hatred and suspicion of their neighbours, and receiving applause along the way. It shows that he and his advisors are not entirely stupid. Mob mentality, the sheep-like nature of the masses, has been used by leaders since ancient times. Distraction, illusion, a politician’s white rabbits. Pulled out of their hats when all else fails because terror is motivation for action. Flee, fight, or fall.
Meanwhile major news corporations run 24-hour coverage of the horrific events that have taken place recently, either in Paris or Brussels. While incredibly sad and devastating to those involved there is a large hole missing in our news coverage. Somehow most of them forget to mention that the largest group being targeted by terrorists are Muslims themselves. Refugees like those fleeing Syria are not coming in order to bomb Europe or America back to the stone age. They are good people who are afraid for their lives, and the well-being of their families.
I can understand wariness in such a situation. It is a conundrum. Take in the needy and there is certainly the potential for extremists to slip through. Does that mean that we should continue to let tens of thousands of others to suffer? I believe that their lives are worth a bit of risk.
The answer to the problem is not more violence. The answer to illegal immigration from Mexico is not a wall. Terror should be reserved for those in life-threatening circumstances, not used as a calculated move to consolidate power. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, and hate leads to suffering. Yoda knew what he was talking about. If only the Americans had a little old man with respect for life and an open mind that they could turn to instead of rallying in fear around Darth Trump…