9/11 AND THE ERA OF FEAR
(Written for SQ News and published 09/07/2006)
As we remember the passing of the fifth anniversary of 9/11, it comes to mind that we now live in a different arena nationally. That arena is the one produced by the fear of another terrorist attack.
As our Nation escalated into WWII, Roosevelt said that the “only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. What has changed? Why do we no longer believe that? How have we changed as a society?
E.J. Montini, (an Arizona Republic columnist) in a pre-9/11/06 article dated 8/29/06, introduced this subject by equating it to Halloween. As a nation, we have changed. We have seen our judicial system change. We have hit reality about our energy dependency. Our role in the global political system has eroded and we are constantly being attacked by “unfriendly” or hostile political entities. A constant bombardment of hostile political thinking and resistance has produced national paranoia.
This is evidenced by how Montini introduced his article and the resources behind his message. About our national paranoia and today’s political arena, he writes the following: “The message (sometimes hidden or implied) is almost always the same Be afraid. Be very afraid . . . and vote for me.”
Using fear has become a political billy club because, as a nation, we no longer believe that the “only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.
What does this columnist use as a resource for his statement and the propellant for his subject? He quotes from an ASU staff member the following, “There’s no doubt that politicians are finding it very effective to promote fear in order to further a political and/or military agenda,” writes David L. Altheide, a regents professor at Arizona State University and the author of a book called ‘Terrorism and the Politics of fear.'”
The substance of Montini’s and Altheide’s scribal meanderings is how fear is used by various sources as a means of social control or engineering. It is hoped that what they write is meant to educate and inform readers rather than encourage the use of such emotional dread as a means of restructuring our national thinking. To say that our national thinking has been impacted by fright and trepidation is an understatement.
When a nation becomes fearful, it becomes subject to many adverse pressures. The following questions should produce some serious mental pictures. War in Iraq? War in Lebanon and Israel? Demonstrations in Washington? Media and judicial activism? Power struggles in political parties? These are just a few of the sources of adverse pressure that today’s voters are being subjected to.
Montini ended his article with this observation. “As Professor Altheide points out, however, fear works as a political strategy. Voters fall for it. Now, that scares me.”
How badly does it scare us? Is it enough to bring WWII history to mind and what Hitler’s Nazi fear campaigns were able to do? We do still have the right to vote. Will we exercise that right or allow fear to panic us into the ideological horrors of rule by insane dictators?
A little common sense, prayer and research will help us to be educated voters, not cowardly rabble-rousers. Voting is a privilege gained by the blood, sacrifice, sweat and tears of many patriotic Americans. Bravery, not fear, will be our sure guide to ensure our national freedom.
JR McElfresh, Author of SpiritQuest: Our War With Choices and coming soon SpiritQuest 2: Interface with Creation