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Unreasoning Fear is the Real End of the World

December 31, 2012

2012-12-29 14.32.56Life as we know it could very well end in a few days.  It won’t come with a natural disaster of Biblical proportions, though.  It will come as a result of human outbursts fueled by fear and naïveté.  That is profoundly sobering and, sadly, completely preventable.

“Paranoia runs deep…into your life it will creep…it starts when you’re always afraid…”

— From the song “For What It’s Worth” — written by Stephen Stills, recorded by Buffalo Springfield in 1966, with the single released in 1967.

The lyrics of that old protest song seem disconcertingly apropos today.  As a nation, we seem to be afflicted with a paranoia that threatens far worse than the isolated horrors it purports to stem from.  Emotional reactions have blinded us to other aspects of reality, to things we cherish and take for granted that are in just as much jeopardy, and in our rush to save ourselves from one sensationalized thing, we may lose everything.

We seem obsessed with attaining ultimate control over that which is inherently uncontrollable.  There is so much we have no control of in life, and likely never will.  It is not possible to legislate morality or sanity, yet there are those who keep trying.

Heinous acts of violence come from unstable people.  But how do you recognize and differentiate the truly disturbed from the momentarily over-stressed?  Mental illness is not something to be taken (or diagnosed) lightly.  We barely have any understanding of it, and are scarcely beyond the days of institutionalizing and warehousing those individuals operating outside the norm of daily acceptable behavior.  People who are deeply disturbed need extra help and attention.  That being said, we must take great care not to create or to reconfigure classifications of illness that encompass too much in this frantic attempt to over-protect ourselves quite literally from ourselves.   We must not label and imprison marginally troubled souls who would otherwise not deserve such treatment.  Paranoia lashes out at anything that makes it uncomfortable.

Let us pause, take a few cleansing breaths, and consider our actions with compassion and clarity.  Life, by its very essence, is the overcoming of one risk after another, however small or great.  It is not about the noble fight, but merely using our intellects to survive ever more successfully.  Let us not survive as a species at the cost of all that makes us human.

“Fear is the little mind death…” – From the iconic sci-fi novel, Dune, by Frank Herbert

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