The Power of Fear

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“Fear,” the man said. “Fear has long, fine fingers.”

Grigor Phelan found fear intriguing, full of subtleties, an art form one contemplated because nothing of its shape or color or texture was what it appeared. Fear spanned a spectrum from the subtle edge of respect to unbounded terror, and he was most attracted to what lay in between, in the murky hues of human sentiment. He was charmed by the guises of fear, how it hid itself from its host, how it crouched on the rim of consciousness. Like a child’s kaleidoscope, fear proved changeable, multi-faceted, and often lovely as it turned. It might wear the face of generosity or compassion, decency or loyalty, adoration or threat. It could be manipulated by the most benign of words or actions, or pace like a wolf at the edge of a nightfire, seeking a way in.  (Myths of the Mirror)

***

Few will deny that fear is a powerful force. I wrote the above words as the puppeteers geared up for the invasion of Iraq. Fear was the weapon of choice to convince otherwise rational adults to ignore facts and engage in some shock and awe. The Oxford Research Group estimates that 6,700 civilian men, women, and children died during those 3 weeks of “awe.”

Fear is empowering. We all know that invoking the “other” unites us, fires our collective will, and rallies our troops. How thrilling to identify a monster, threaten to lay it low, and scream our slogans. If you want to unite a people behind you, find a common enemy – a racial or ethnic group, a religion or gender, lifestyle or point of view. All other problems, all other responsibilities, every other option falls away.

Few are impervious to fear’s influence, though some are bolder, braver, and willing to see beyond the lurid illusions. No matter how one felt about Barrack Obama’s policies, it’s hard to deny the remarkable fortitude, dignity, and grace he exhibited while facing eight years of fear-based racism, bigotry, smears, and lies. The baseness of the attacks brought a whole nation to a standstill. They accomplished nothing and served no one, least of all the fearful.

Peace, unity, and progress require hard work. Fear is easy. It does away with the pesky time-consuming need for listening, dialog, collaboration, and compromise. It requires no research, no curiosity, no empathy, no diligence, no ethics, no time, no compassion, no truth. It’s so much easier to lay blame, to hide behind righteousness, to repeat the lies, to say what others want to hear, to feed and fan the flames until it becomes the norm for political discourse and cements walls of cynicism and suspicion in place.

Fear is ravenous. It claims those who wield it and makes them slaves to their own words and actions. Few who have unleashed the monster will risk the backlash should they try stuff it back in its cage. Once the beast is fed, it’s safer to keep feeding. Who would have thought kindness requires such courage.

Today, the US votes. I hope that we as a nation aren’t ensnared in fear’s talons. I hope we can stuff it back behind the bars and elect leaders who will knuckle under and start the tremendously hard work of finding solutions to the massive problems riddling our country and the world. This is serious business with lives at risk, real lives that depend on our leaders to stand up against fear and proceed with, at the very least, mutual respect.

What wonders we could achieve if we believed in the power of love.

My one political post for the year. Thanks for listening ❤

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124 thoughts on “The Power of Fear

  1. inesephoto says:

    Well said, Diana! We have to be positive and do our part. Hate is destructive, as is division and bigotry. We have to stand by each other, not against each other. No room for hate. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  2. So eloquent, and so true! And sad. The worst part is, IMO, people don’t bother to think beyond the fear, or even beyond the borders of their own tiny part of the world. They’re afraid every day that something will happen to damage their already tenuous grip on everyday living. They cling to the rhetoric and pin hope on someone who was never in their position, or even close to it, someone who used people like them to climb ever higher in his world. Through this whole insane election cycle, I’ve had to wonder just where people’s common sense has gone to, whether they are even capable of logic and reason. Hoping those of us who can think, and feel, and reason will be able to defend against the fear and anger he stirred up. Love your last line. Indeed, what could we do with the immense power of love!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment, Julie. I’ve settled into “wait and see” mode. Trump’s rhetoric was reprehensible fear-mongering, but I think he’s also unpredictable, so what he actually does is anyone’s guess. Scary. We may end up horrified or pleasantly surprised. Only time will tell. *Sigh*

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Powerful indeed, Diana. I’m catching up on blogs. I got behind again so the voting is over and the person I voted for lost, but I don’t intend to give up. I understand why some voted the way they did and can’t blame them. They voted out of fear. They’re trying to survive in a government they think has forgotten them so voted for someone they thought would fight for them. The campaign promises he made scared a lot of people, though. My daughter called from the U.S. in tears. She’s part Indian but could be taken for Hispanic. Her young actor friends scared her. They were yelling and crying. I talked to her for an hour and she quieted down. A Pandora’s box has been opened and I’m afraid evil was let loose. The President-elect has a lot of work to do to set things straight. The KKK is proudly boasting their people helped him get into office. He’s not said a word about it not being true. He’s created a wave of fear washing over anyone with black or brown skin. It’s 9/11 all over again. Something needs to be done and fast. Saying a couple of nice things about President Obama after visiting him is not nearly enough. He’s still blaming the media for wrongs against him. They’re just reporting it not causing it. It’s a nasty situation. —- Suzanne

    Liked by 2 people

    • I understand the fears. My husband is African American and beautifully brown, as are the kids. Women and minorities of all types have a lot to lose if the rhetoric of the past 18 months comes to pass. I hope Trump isn’t quite as reckless as his words, and I hope the Republicans will use their power responsibly. The anxiety of not knowing what’s ahead is hard. My best to your daughter, Suzanne. I’ll continue to stand up for diversity in the US and compassion across the world. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Erik says:

    Wow. Powerful, Diana. I was reading this, thinking you wrote it after the results were in. The fact that you wrote it before … somehow made it all the more powerful, because it was pure truth with no one able to say it was “reactionary.” I said so on my own post, but thank you for using your voice to encourage and stand for what’s right so eloquently.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I wrote it before the election, Erik. I hope we are able to proceed with dignity, grace, and mutual respect for the people within our communities, nation, and throughout the world. Peace, my friend.

      Like

  5. Fear is the easy path, thus, too many people take it. Love and kindness are the path that leads to peace, and all too few take that one. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  6. reocochran says:

    Since I could not remember your posting about politics before Diana, I didn’t come to visit you last night. I would have pitched in with the weight of the world sitting on each of our shoulders. I would have agreed that the two characters in this political farce were polar opposites, while one should have appeared not only the right choice but she would be the “only” choice!
    I visited Merril and Joey, while left “worried words” in a trail across several posts! Hugs and kudos for this memorable and poignant post, D! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Robin. It’s over now and we can only hope things don’t get so terrible that they can’t be fixed (again). You and I at an age where we are probably going to be okay. I worry more about the next generations and the society/world they’ll be left with. Keep smiling, my friend. You always cheer me up. ❤

      Liked by 3 people

      • reocochran says:

        Diana, I liked how your overall message was to try and not worry. 🙂 I do agree that fear and hate don’t help contribute “good” which may erase “bad!” So, thank you for saying I cheer you up!
        Have a wonderful beginning of the week, dear friend.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I also don’t post about politics. It seems to send at least half my readers over the edge. You though, dear efriend, did it magnificently. I think it is a corner of politics we can all agree on.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Val Boyko says:

    Thank you for sharing from your very being Diana. Its such a sad day … but reading all the posts, articles and comments today I know we are not alone. The outcome didn’t turn out as we had hoped, but there is still hope. Lets us keep our hearts and minds open and be a part of creating a better future for every one. 💕

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Christy B says:

    Yes, fear will move us forward or hold us back. You’ve made many good points here about this powerful emotion xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fear can work for us in some circumstances, but often it’s needless. I think most of our choices boil down to love or fear, and love requires the greater courage. Thanks for visiting this gloomy writer today 🙂 Be well ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Jools says:

    Now the world turns on a different axis and we all get to feel the fear – a different kind of fear.

    You were right about Obama – dignity personified.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Widdershins says:

    And now we know … fear won. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Micki Peluso says:

    Great post. Fear has played a part in my life due to abuse and assaults as a young child. You can belive you have a handle on it but it hides in the subconscious mind walking for a chance to pounce.
    Reblogged this on mallie1025.wordpress .com

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so sorry you endured that as a young child, Micki. No child should grow up with abuse. Sometimes fear is useful and keeps us safe, but it can also take a life of its own and interfere with joy and love and kindness. The challenge seems to be recognizing the difference. I wish you much peace and love in a world.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Kudos for being politically vocal! I can’t bear to post anything about it. The good news is it looks like I’ll be confirmed for 4-6 weeks short term disability while I start my rehab on my hand and wrist. I got my pin and traction device off today so will have plenty of time to finish all your books, if so. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Cloud Walker says:

    We are in fear of all the tomorrows after today! We need to look within and search for that neutrality

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Steven Baird says:

    An eloquent and powerful message, Diana, and so appropriate. Regardless of differences, we would do well to remember compassion, and the boldness to embrace each other’s uniqueness. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. dgkaye says:

    I hear you loud and clear Diana. God Bless America! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Believing…in the power of love! ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  18. cagedunn says:

    Re: we can stuff it back behind the bars – this takes more than one, it takes a community, and a community is made up of individuals who stand strong against lies and threats that break down the morals that hold that community together. And as a community, to ensure the words we use, the actions we take, are not the words or actions of the ‘other’ that comes from these border incursions – and the biggest item on that community list: we are a single planet, a single people, a single community. The only ‘other’ is our own fear and how we allow it any length of rope – as your story says.
    Thank you for your words; I hope people listen and hear and speak and act appropriately.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think we do forget that we are all one global community in this together, and what we do to others eventually comes back to us in one form or another. The rules of karma apply. I love that commercial “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” Wise words.

      Liked by 2 people

  19. Sue Vincent says:

    An eloquent post, Diana…and the comments say as much about that as about how deeply felt the fear is across the world tonight.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Diana Peach with a post reflecting the emotions of many today I am sure.. Fear being very close to the surface that the fractures won’t heal.. Let’s hope those fears are unfounded. Terrific post

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Bernadette says:

    The easiest way to end our democracy is through fear. Wise post.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. janmalique says:

    An honest, passionate and powerful post. We have been living in fear for a long time; it is a beast that has fed ravenously upon our minds and hearts.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Heartafire says:

    into your life it will creep! that old insidious fear, father of racism, bigotry, violence, misogyny… great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. mistermuse says:

    Fear, ignorance and gullibility — a consuming combination that has grabbed too many Americans by the throat in this election. I have fallen victim to one of the three myself — I fear that if Trump wins, this country will face a future that will make us rue this day. It will be hard enough even if Hillary wins.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Joanne Sisco says:

    I can’t begin to tell you how sad I felt reading this post. Your words are always so beautifully eloquent, but the message is sad beyond belief. It’s sad because it’s true and it’s real – right here, right now.
    It’s not some fantasy novel, or Hollywood movie.

    The whole world is watching and wait with a clenched gut.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. Reblogged this on The happy Quitter! and commented:
    Fear! The ultimate break on any forward movement. I hope I will go to bed tonight without any fear of tomorrow.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Annika Perry says:

    Diana, I thought on this momentous day today that you would write something special – special doesn’t even come close. The power, force and wisdom in conveyed through every word should be read, heard by everyone going out to vote today. May these feelings resonate amongst us all. Truly a wonderful piece of writing…gifted.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. So well written Diana! If only love……

    Liked by 1 person

  29. A political post with a difference. Cleverly done. I do hope (manipulated) fear and demagoguery does not win your election. It would have far-reaching effects.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Very well stated, Diana. It is unbelievable at the level of fear inciting propaganda that has been unleashed during this political season. I for one am hoping that I will stop being asked to view a “viral video” that “no one wants me to see.” It seems people are too willing to jump on the fear Wagon rather than do their own research.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I used to get so mad at uninformed voters, Lana, but I recognize that they have jobs, families, busy lives. Nothing will help the bigots, but if respectful, truthful information was the norm, we all could make better decisions. Fear just throws people into survival mode! I’ll be up as long as it takes tonight. Fingers crossed 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Antonia says:

    Love this Diana, “Like a child’s kaleidoscope, fear proved changeable, multi-faceted, and often lovely as it turned. ” I also love the idea of fear being empowering. Hopefully everyone goes out and votes today..such an amazing right we have!

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Softly said with a voice of reason.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. balroop2013 says:

    Wow! Not just a political post Diana…it is very powerful and poetic! Ah! love…that one word says it all but both the emotions have their own place in the spectrum of lies and intimidation! Enough of both or the facade…hope the vote that is cast today is much above all the emotional outbursts as voter power is the real one! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  34. I wish the U.S could vote D. Wallace Peach.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. Allie P. says:

    Lovely sentiments. It is so difficult to control your fear rather than allow it to control you. No matter what the outcome, I am just relieved that after tomorrow we can move forward as a nation of people once again rather than as several movements that just happen to occupy the same place.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Wonderful thoughts I thoroughly agree with, Diana. Fear mongers are all over the world and those with courage are being punished at the moment. I wish the US all the best for the election results. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the comment, Sebnem. It’s really hard for reason to prevail once fear takes over, but there are still a lot of reasonable people everywhere! I am hopeful that today will be a good day for the US and the world. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  37. Beautiful and simply great words and so apt way of saying conquer your fears. Yes we need to our world is facing a severe problem because of fear and living in fear what is going to happen. Good post.👍👍👍👍👍

    Liked by 1 person

  38. babbitman says:

    Great words. You should see the bitter vile that’s been dripping out of the British tabloids over the past few years (specifically, the Daily Mail, the paper that supported fascism in the 30s and which is heading back in that direction today).
    If only everyone on the planet had to live by the basic principles of: 1) Be Nice and 2) Don’t Lie, then the world would be infinitely happier, safer and wealthier.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Nick. I think the media has let us down by not being the purveyors of truth. And I haven’t given up on the belief that most people are decent human beings. It just might take some pain to get there 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • babbitman says:

        I’m very wary of the media but tend to use the BBC as my go-to news site; it’s so often criticised by all sides that it’s probably the most neutral whilst still giving some valid commentary. It’s not perfect because it always tries to portray a balanced picture even if one side of a debate is clearly in a minority, e.g. with the EU referendum the Remain experts (legal, economic, political, business) outnumbered the Leave lot by a huge margin but the way it was handled made it look 50-50. It’s a bit like having one evolutionary biologist up against one creationist, which means it comes down to how well the individual performs.

        Liked by 1 person

  39. Well said, Diana. A voice of reason. I watched how Obama handled a Trump supporter in a crowd recently, with dignity, grace and wisdom. I’ll miss that. We may be in for a bumpy ride, but we will survive, we always have. The angriest voices are always the loudest, but they do not represent the majority of us. We are so much better than we in the US are portrayed. Onward….

    Liked by 4 people

  40. All of my works include a comment on fear; mankind’s best friend and most terrible foe. A piece as lovely as I’ve come to expect from your blog, D. Thanks for sharing, and happy voting 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  41. Best wishes to you both as an individual and as part of your great nation. Let’s hope that good sense prevails in the outcome of today’s election.

    Liked by 1 person

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