Fear Itself

When primitive man walked the plains of Africa searching for food, he was likely to encounter many dangers along his path. So instinctively when he noticed movement in his visual periphery, he would react as if a predator were upon him. Sometimes, it was just the wind. Yet other times, it was a tiger. Without necessarily having the ability to articulate it, he understood that complacency could cost him his life. Fear was indeed a useful tool for survival.

As such, a certain amount of anxiety and trepidation have been embedded in our DNA. We still have an instinct for self preservation that internally warns us against detrimental activities. Certainly, that’s what prevents many of us from taking unnecessary chances with our lives, or even our finances (which psychologically translates as food). When reasonable perspective is utilized, a certain amount of fear can be healthy, which is why most of us don’t place our paychecks on one roulette spin. However today’s predators are a little bit different than those that ancient man faced. Modern day predators walk on two legs, and they often strike from the tall grass of cable news, or the thicket of the blogosphere… and they use our fear against us.

While cable news pontiffs and socio/political bloggers from the lunatic fringes might not sustain themselves on our flesh like predators from the Paleozoic, they do achieve sustenance from the national sense of dread that occurs  due to the hysteria they themselves create. Rather than feast on our carcasses, they use our fear to promote themselves, and that translates into commercial success. Political extremists prey on our instinctual, collective fear of loss, and they feed on our panic. In our either/or, vitriolic national discourse, the blood lust is no less savage.

Although we may no longer be at risk of being gored by a wild boar, there are those who would have you similarly fearful of a bore named Al Gore. And while Americans believe that they’re at no one’s beck and call, some are in fact psychologically subjugated to Glenn Beck’s call. Whether they be liberal or conservative, Americans are being conditioned to fear one another based on ideology…  and as we accuse our fellow citizens of undermining our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,  the ruthless profiteers of political extremism are laughing all the way to the bank.

But the singular commonality shared by both right and left wing predators, is that measured, rational thought by “we the people” is akin to a carnivore losing out on a meal because primitive man noticed movement in the brush. However in order for rationality to prevail over phobia, reason must overcome generations of instinctual fear. So predatory pontiffs vilify those who see through their deception, and label them as RINO’s, DINO’s or worst of all, political centrists. The underlying, unspoken message is, that reason and compromise make one weak.

… and in the battle for survival, no one wants to be weak.

But being a “centrist” does not mean that one is divided on every topic, or that they see both sides to every issue. It simply means that whatever stand one takes, they do so without a political predisposition. A centrist doesn’t consult a liberal, nor a conservative playbook before formulating a perspective. He or she formulates their socio/political vista based on context, their understanding of whatever the debated item is, and how it applies to the nation, and our constitution. However, if said person were to find themselves residing on one side of the political aisle more often than not, then so be it. All that would mean is that they arrived at their conclusions based on an honest introspection, and not because they were
fearfully driven into the arms of predators from the left, or the right.

A rational, political centrist doesn’t have their mind made up for them by extremist driven fear. That is anything but weak. But media predators don’t want their victims to reach that conclusion. Our foreboding is their marketplace. So, my fellow Americans… while it’s true that in the early parts of the twenty-first century we do, in fact, have more to fear than just fear itself, we must do our parts to not become easy prey.

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About Rich Woods

Rich Woods is the author of the critically acclaimed books, UnLearn Vanilla Marriage, and Yahweh to Hell. He is also a columnist, sociologist, and satirist who has performed seminars around the country. He's also made several TV and radio appearances. Transitioning from a blue-collar background has given Mr. Woods a unique perspective --and an even more unique elocution--among his peers. Raised Catholic, Mr. Woods is now a very public atheist who champions the separation of church and state. He's an advocate for non-traditional relationships, including --but not limited to-- negotiating non-monogamy, as well as being a vocal opponent of political correctness. Throughout his career, Woods has had colorful metaphors hurled in his direction from both liberals, and conservatives. To be honest, most of the vitriol comes from the Tea Party. However, he considers one of his greatest accomplishments having been called "Harry Reid's Lapdog" , and referred to as being "just like Rush Limbaugh" from two different sources within minutes of one another. Originally from Queens, New York, and presently residing in central New Jersey, Rich Woods is madly, and hopelessly in love with his wife Jane since before they were wed in 2002, and is the proud father of two successful, brilliantly creative, young adult children. Try as he might, he can't juggle.

Posted on June 16, 2012, in Recent Posts. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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