The Arrow of Fear in the Quiver of Control

I’m sick and tired of being made afraid. 

When it comes to the issue of controlling the hearts and minds of the people, there are several lethal arrows in the quiver of control that have been effectively used throughout history. None is more lethal and none used more often than the arrow offear. In fact, it is the one essential arrow for the politician’s success. If you can get into the head and heart of the constituent, and establish the spirit of fear, you have at the same instant established the spirit of dependency. Abdication welcomes control . . . all in the name of protection and peace of mind. 

While traveling in Zimbabwe, I experienced the many times President Mugabe dispatched his military and police units to race through the city streets in the middle of the night with sirens blaring, lights flashing, and horns honking to strike fear in the hearts of the sleepy citizens. The frightened citizens would awaken thinking, “Oh, it’s awful, and scary, and dangerous out there, and I do hope that our president will take care of us.” 

Hitler’s confidant, Herman Goering, claimed, “Naturally, the common people don’t want war neither in Russia nor England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” 

I recall from the 1950s and 1960s my very first awareness of a leader’s control by fear. Newsreels showed President Abdel Nasser of Egypt sounding all the alarms in Cairo, rousing all the people out of their beds and into the streets for defense drills, saying the British and French were coming to kill them because he had taken control of the Suez Canal. The next night he would order the people out of bed and into their defense positions because President Qasim of Iraq, or the troops from Saudi Arabia or North Yemen were on their way to kill them. Nasser kept the people of Egypt in a continual state of fear and confusion. And they loved him and supported him for it because he was the only one who could take care of them. Ironically, to quell them and gain their confidence, he promised them universal health care, subsidized housing, building of vocational schools, and minimum wages. Nasser came closer to unifying the Arab world than anyone in recent history, and fear was his sharpest arrow. 

In any one given day media reports can swamp you with fears of individual loss of net worth through increased taxation, coming hyper-inflation, loss of freedom on the internet, nuclear bombs from Iran or North Korea, government’s inability to pay social security, military pensions or Medicare, death panels for those over seventy-five, epidemics, natural and man-made disasters, bank failures, further loss of liberties, loss of electrical and communication grid systems, failure of our money system, foreign intrusion or radical domestic upheavals, increase in killer diseases, and on and on . . . . Most fears are based on some percentage of truth, so at best, we deal with half truths. The problem with our species is that we usually glom onto the wrong half. And once we begin to let fears terrify us, the quality of our personal life diminishes. Seneca said, “Where fear is, happiness is not.” If we allow our minds to become focused on fears — created by whomever — those fears will choose our destiny, because fear is the enemy of logic and effectively robs the mind of all its powers of reasoning and acting. 

So, what’s to be done? If it is a legitimate concern and you can do something about it, then do it. If you need to vote, then vote. If you need to protest, then protest. But, don’t let the fear possess you. Let go of the fear. You need not be made afraid any more. Dale Carnegie used to say, “Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” 

From what I observe, there seems to be a positive correlation between the amount of fear that possesses me and how unusually concerned I am about myself. I find that I am less apt to be made afraid if I can get my thoughts off myself and I start concentrating on helping someone else become better off. That just may be one reason why our fifteen thousand volunteers at Project C.U.R.E. are such a happy lot. They have discovered that as you focus your attention on helping other people become better off, even if they are on the other side of the world, the super-imposed fears that were once yours seem to lose their grip and start slipping in their influence over you. 

I don’t want to be made afraid anymore! Fear is the darkroom where negatives are developed, and I no longer need to be a part of that picture!