Monday, November 7, 2016

A Fearful Nation

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” So said the Jedi Master Yoda in the 1999 movie, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Wise words for a short, green fictional character.

Ever since the 911 attacks, Americans have turned their lives inside out with fear, much like they did in the 1950s. Just substitute “communist” with “terrorist” and it’s the same hysteria. We live in fear of terrorists. Fear of guns. Fear of Muslims. Fear of using the wrong bathroom. Fear of breastfeeding in public. We have become a country of scared little sheep, suspicious of anything and everyone who’s different.

From that fear, we’ve grown angry.

We’re mad at the terrorists. We’re angry about laws allowing equal marriage rights, and we try to pass laws about who can use which bathroom. We’re upset about our government not making the changes we want, and we’re enraged that not every citizen agrees with us.

From that anger, we’ve become hateful.

We’re intolerant of anything that’s not what we want in our own lives, and we insist others should want the same things. We lash out at fellow Americans because their faith is different than our own. Or because someone has the audacity to want to make their own decisions about their health and family planning without government interference. We hate people because they look different. We blame others for all the problems of our country.

From that hatred, we all suffer.

I repeat, we all suffer. Everyone. No one is happy. No one feels safe. Riots happen. People get injured. People die. Lives are changed forever.

We have become a nation divided. We are a people living in fear, angry at everyone, and intolerant of anything different.

More hate-mongering groups like the KKK and neo-Nazis have emerged, validated by the political rhetorical spewing from a vulgar, racist, misogynistic, disreputable, volatile, orange-faced hypocrite who’s running for the highest office in the land: President of the United States of America. See what I did there? Yup. That’s hatred talking. Hate spawns more hate.

So how do we stop the madness and turn things around?

First thing we can do is not vote for Donald Trump as president since he’s turned this election into a “bigly” circus of hatred. You can read all about other reasons not to elect him in my last blog article, The Brink of Disaster.

Secondly, we can stop absorbing and spreading negativity. We have to start thinking for ourselves and stop blindly following anyone who makes something sound like a great idea without checking all the facts first. We have to turn off our emotions temporarily and ask ourselves some hard questions, like:

  • Why does it bother me what someone else believes?
  • How important or realistic is it that we all look the same and think or act alike?
  • As long as someone is following the laws of the land, why do they have to fear being treated differently or getting deported because of that difference, even if they were born in America or are here legally?
  • Does someone’s skin color or gender or sexual preferences really and truly make a difference in the grand scheme of things?
  • What if your rights were denied because you are different from someone else?
  • How would you feel if your rights were violated or taken away?
Imagine for a moment that everyone in the world was just like you. You’re probably thinking, “What’s so bad about that? I’m a pretty cool person.” Well, what if I don’t think you’re a pretty cool person? What if you were Adolf Hitler? Would you still want everyone to be just like you? Can you imagine a world full of Hitlers?

Or maybe you are a cool person. If everyone you met was just like you, how boring would that be? What if you never had that great idea that stopped global warming or solved the world energy crisis? If everyone was just like you, no one else would come up with it either.

We can’t all be the same. We can’t all like the same things or believe the same things.

When was the last time you engaged in a conversation with someone to learn about their culture, their religion, their spirituality, or their personal beliefs? Did what that person share with you make you run screaming, “Terrorist!” and head for the hills? Okay, maybe it did. But why? Unless that person told you, “I’m a terrorist and I’m going to kill you and anyone else I feel like killing, blah, blah, blah,” you can’t make that assumption.

Thirdly, we have to consider the source. When someone is trying to make you believe something, ask yourself who funds that person’s paychecks. If that person is backed by big oil companies, chances are pretty darn good they’re going to sing the fossil fuel industry’s praises ’til the cows come home, regardless of how many alternative clean energy sources there may be. We all have to take that into consideration before we jump on the next bandwagon.

Everyone has an agenda.

Why are people supporting certain things and not others? What’s in it for them? Who benefits from splitting the country into two divisive factions? What is the bigger picture?

I used to think I was born a decade too late and would have made a great hippie. I wanted to be a flower child, wear mini-skirts and go-go boots, and participate in sit-ins for peace. The 1960s saw a lot of turmoil and I wanted to be right there with all those people, passionate about a cause I believed in, like supporting Roe vs. Wade in the early 1970s. I remember watching coverage of the race riots on television. I heard about the young women who burned their bras in rebellion. I wanted to rebel. Maybe that was just my crappy childhood talking, but I was ready to take on the world.

Now, I’d give anything to not have to be that passionate about rebelling against “the man” or whoever else I have issues with. I don’t want to have to fight for causes. I want everything resolved and peaceful and focused on progressive social improvements for all the future generations to enjoy. I want us all to just get along. Na├»ve, I’m sure, but it’s true.

My motto: “Do whatever floats your boat, as long as it doesn’t sink mine – or isn’t illegal.”

The problem is that there are too many people out there trying to sink everyone else’s boats. Or they’re afraid others are going to sink their boats. And we’re right back to fear.

Stop being afraid.

Stop hating.

Stop the madness.

“Do or do not; there is no try.”

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