dexeron: (ultima)
[personal profile] dexeron
Leaving public because I think it's worth repeating.

When we are faced with moments of crisis, it is all too easy to fall back on reactions that served us well in the wild, and have remained ingrained within us: fight or flight. Something happens, and we perform a stress response. The problem with this kind of response is that it is automatic, and often unthinking. It might work when suddenly confronted with a predator, but when we're dealing with issues that affect the lives of millions of people and exist in the world of realpolitik, an unthinking response is the last thing we want to perform. Had world leaders during the Cold War reacted to every threat and perceived slight without measured thought and consideration of consequences, we would have all perished in nuclear fire. Yet all to often, we (meaning all of us humans) can so easily resort to such quick, but harmful methods of reaction.

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks Americans, both conservative and liberal, were quick to jump to military action (not caring against who) and pass legislation (again, without regard to its long term consequences) because it seemed better than "doing nothing." In the wake of every mass-shooting, some folks immediately call for gun bans. In the aftermath of these recent attacks in Paris, some have insisted that no Syrian refugees be allowed in (despite the attackers being neither Syrian, nor refugees.)

I'm not suggesting that military action in response to an attack is wrong, per se. I'm not saying that, in the aftermath of a crisis, laws don't sometimes have to be changed to address a changing world. I'm not saying that there is no place for a discussion on guns and gun ownership. I'm not saying that a debate on immigration and refugees isn't worth having. But what is happening in all of these scenarios is not reasoned discourse, weighing the pros and cons of various approaches and then coming to a decision after careful consideration. It's lashing out. It's knee-jerk reacting. It's acting for the sake of acting, without consideration of consequences. It's insisting that a fight-or-flight response is the only appropriate one, when really a "think" response is the most helpful.

And now, in the aftermath of these recent attacks in Paris, some are actually cheering suggestions to completely ignore the Constitution, emulate the policies of Nazi Germany, and make all members of a particular religion wear identification badges. Donald Trump's refusal to "rule out" such a thing may not be the same thing as him saying he'd actually do it, but far too many people beyond Trump have responded, without even really thinking, to the idea with an automatic: "Yes! Let us do this!"

I lack an effective word to describe the mindset of people who would so quickly react without thinking, according only to their so-called "lizard brain" and to their fears. I would call it "reactionary," but that already describes a particular political movement on the conservative side, and this is not solely a conservative problem. Many liberals are just as guilty of this. I will call it "reactive," for now, or perhaps merely "fearful." If you can think of a better word, please let me know. But I have been seeing this fearful, reactive mindset among certain people for years now, and it is always the same. There is always some crisis, some horror that must be addressed, and to hell with the unintended consequences. The fearful mind lurches from outrage to outrage, always looking for something to be afraid of - and always asking who is to blame.

It's a mindset rooted primarily in fear, and nothing is the enemy of thought more so than fear.

it is the fearful mindset that insists that every problem in the world can be boiled down to a simple bumper-sticker solution. It is the fearful mindset that starts to think that anyone who disagrees is either a "useful idiot" or actively evil. it is the fearful mindset that starts to think that the opposite side doesn't merely disagree, but must be lying. It is the fearful mindset that, when shown evidence that it is wrong, will loudly proclaim that such evidence must be lies. It is the fearful mindset that believes that one's ideological opponents are "not merely wrong, but dangerous!"


It is the fearful mindset that, after being told that ISIS wants us to turn away the refugees (and that this action will play into our enemy's hands,) will still insist on it. It is the fearful mindset that can lead someone to share a video created by a white supremacist group that displays swastikas on their site, and refuse to condemn it, because what the video says plays to their fears. It is the fearful mindset that causes someone to insist that they understand the history and politics of one and a half billion people based on a cursory reading of a couple of documents. It is the fearful mindset that can cause someone to declare a fifth of the world's population to be their enemy, and think that is a sustainable way in which to exist.

It is the fearful mindset that led to the holocaust, and could do so again.

To misquote a Michael Douglas movie: "Whatever problems and whatever crises we face, the fearful mind is not the least bit interested in actually solving it. It is interested in two things, and two things only: being afraid of it, and blaming someone for it."

That is no way to live. It is certainly no way to govern a country.

Do not give in to fear. We can disagree, even vehemently. Certainly, weigh the consequences of actions. Debate the pros and cons. Come to a different conclusion than I have. But what I am seeing here and elsewhere is not mere disagreement. It is clinging to fear as a security blanket, wrapping that blanket around one's head, and then acting blindly, without regard for the damage that gets done. That might be a great way to assuage the lizard-brain demanding immediate gratification, but it's the worst way possible to address the problems of our modern world.


I will not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
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Daniel Lustig

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