Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Fear hurts, no matter how or when it's used

"Trying to fortify the nuclear family by fomenting suspicion of strangers fractures the community of adults and children; it can leave children defenseless in abusive homes. Projecting sexual menace onto a cardboard monster and pouring money and energy into vanquishing him distracts from teaching children the subtle skills of loving with both trust and discrimination. Ultimately, children are rendered more vulnerable both at home and in the world."
- Judith Levine, Harmful to Minors

That's a lot of words to say: Fear is harmful, no matter where it's used or how it's applied. When fear is created in children, it impacts their whole lives in ways that parents can't imagine.

It's important to make a distinction between fear and a healthy dose of apprehension or caution. We need apprehension and caution to conduct our lives safely by avoidng situations which are potentially harmful or risky.

However, either apprehension or caution, when used to excess, can be harmful themselves because they become what amounts to fear. Or possibly obsession.

All fear is learned. It may be taught actively (such as teaching a child to fear big dogs or strangers), it may be learned passively through watching a parent or other role model (kids tend to fear the same things as their parents), or it may be learned through experience (such as a fear of heights caused by almost falling from a roof or a tree).

Judith Levine speaks of a particular kind of fear that is taught to children and that is damaging to whole communities. She might as well have said that all fear is bad.

By simple deduction, any person who teaches fear to another person is wrong (at best) or dangerous (at worst).

All dicators use fear to keep their positions. All leaders who seek to increase their power or to hold onto sagging power use fear by actively teaching it to their people.

However, on a mass scale, such as in whole countries, not everyone will succumb to the fear taught by their leaders. That's where the few brave souls who can see through the disguise and the guile must speak up and teach others that they ahve been deceived.

In every country of the world that has a dictator or a powerful leader, the few are speaking out. In a few of those cases, the United Nations listens and takes action.

Not often enough, as nations tend toward maintaining the status quo just the way individuals do.

Some brave individuals need to speak not just louder, but to the right people in the right places.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to show the way to a better world by speaking up to the right people in the right places.
Learn more at http://billallin.com/cgi/index.pl

No comments: