Originally I wanted to do a post regarding the vast amount of anxiety around the protests, violence, and political crap going on recently here in the United States. People are worried about Trump getting elected, and people are worried about Clinton getting elected. At times, reading the news makes it feel like we’re a nation under a domestic siege. Everywhere, we’re getting slammed with messages that the world is practically ending.
I realized belatedly that I’ve heard this kind of rhetoric before.
Unsurprisingly, this kind of doctrine of fear is spread on pretty thick sometimes in church. Many Sundays I remember hearing sermons on how the world was changing for the worse, how the END TIMES were coming (again). That kind of relying upon creating fear responses worked really well to keep me worried about things that really shouldn’t be worried about. Case in point, homosexual marriage has been legal for over a year now, and California hasn’t fallen into the Pacific Ocean.
It’s the exact same reasoning which permeates news broadcasts and fear-based rhetoric from politicians. Trump isn’t just incompetent; he’s evil. Hillary isn’t just a politician; she’s corrupt to her core. These people aren’t real people; they’re archetypes to be fought against like medieval dragons. Every time I see something, someone’s telling me I need to don my armor and polish my sword. Hopefully I might get a horse to ride on. I wouldn’t have this worry if Vermin Supreme was nominated. He’s promised everyone a pony.
Regardless of the source, the fear is useless.
Fear really gets overused in public these days. It’s not enough that I can make my own assessments of what a candidate has said and done anymore. Instead, I have to be told why it should scare the crap out of me. In order for me to look for decent reporting, I have to go to places that take a long time to find. I feel like no matter how hard I try to leave institutional fear behind, it’s following me like a zombie herd from “The Walking Dead.”
If that’s not bad enough, overusing it has led to some pretty drastic consequences. Remember the abortion clinic trap laws passed a few years ago and recently struck down by the Supreme Court? Yeah, people had been told to be afraid of everything GOP for so long that legitimate worry just became one more thing on a long list behind silly things like the Benghazi committee and the many attempted repeals of the Affordable Care Act. Women being unable to get prenatal care, access to contraception, and access to family planning took a back seat to Cruz reading “Green Eggs and Ham.”
I’m tired of irrational thought. It’s one reason why I stopped being a Christian.
Whether it’s discouraging people to speak up for themselves, changing the subject to useless ones, or generally shitting on people, this mess has reached a critical point for me. I’m figuring out that no, I don’t have to be afraid of Trump or Clinton or anyone else. I don’t have to be afraid of things that are different. I don’t have to be afraid of something because someone says so.
Life is filled with risks that people never fully consider. None of it means I have to spend my life worried about them like they’re definitely going to happen. Doing that lets ignorance govern my attention. If other people want to do that, fine. Hopefully they’ll stop before the stress kills them.