Fear

Day 3 of feeling awful. Whatever virus I picked up on travel is a bad one. Don’t have the energy to do much writing, so here’s something else I wrote while at sea.

***

September 11th

An auspicious day. It’s been 21 years since those jihadi cretins scared the US into becoming what we are now – an angry, fearful, fractured nation. Fear molds people and cultures into something unhappy and angry – exactly what we have become. Frank Herbert had it right when he wrote “Fear is the mindkiller…” in Dune, a classic now receiving its due. I really think that’s the key to fixing the great political divide we have at present. Deal with the fear – fear of foreigners, fear of losing a way of life, fear of invasion, fear of “the other”. And like Herbert, Churchill also had it right – “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” I hope one of the politicians aspiring to be our next President comes to understand that – deal with the fear and you have a chance to heal the division. I’ll vote for that person.

The opposite of fear is confidence – the ability to ignore fear and move ahead. Confidence that things will turn out OK, that we can meet whatever challenge we face. Hope doesn’t quite get there – hope includes the thought that we might not prevail – but confidence assures us that whatever may happen, we’ll be fine. That should be the theme for our next leader(s). Acknowledge our many fears and one by one inspire confidence that those fears need not come true. In previous elections politicians have danced around this issue with plans – a plan for this, a plan for that. But that misses the issue. Plans are logical, but fear is emotional. I imagine that’s why Kennedy was so popular – he came across as a supremely confident individual.

Politicians today run on issues, not confidence, and that’s also a trap. Issues are designed to divide us. They are presented as either-or propositions, when the world is a lot more complicated than that. The issue isn’t “guns or no guns”, it’s “guns with sane checks and balances”. You can apply this kind of common sense to every issue I can think of, but common sense is not very common among American voters.

All that said, we need to get over the shock and fear of 911, 21 years ago, and move on with our culture repair. I’m not saying forget, but I’m saying don’t let the cretinous jihadis win the long game.

Leave a Reply