The Land of the Free and the Home of the Afraid

As President Franklin D. Roosevelt addressed the North American people at his inauguration in 1932, he uttered perhaps the most prophetic words that haunt the American people and their psyche to this very day.

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

George Santayana in his 1905-06 publication The Life of Reason also penned similarly prophetic words for we as humankind to ponder. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Taking these two statements from extremely well-respected and learned gentleman of our past, it would seem trite to not follow their lead and adopt these practices in modern life. Except when it comes to the world’s greatest superpower. It would seem that the USA cannot learn from its mistakes or its innate fear of a concept.

In one of my first posts to this blog I spoke about the notion that Security is a concept. Security is not a reality. The same can also be said for fear. Fear is only ever a concept. It is a concept coined by humans to pigeon-hole feelings of loss of control, of strength, of purpose. But fear is the antithesis to security. When you feel secure you are secure. When you feel afraid you are afraid. Fear grips you and doesn’t let go. So what do we crave in this situation? Security. Safety. So, how are security and safety achieved? As a collective. In numbers. Unfortunately, this conflicts with the basic fundamentals of American beliefs.

The American believes in the individual. Movie stars, pop stars, quarterbacks, batters, pitchers. Almost imperceptibly rare is the concept of ‘team’. Fear breeds on disunity, festers on individuality, and feeds on division. With the American’s constant mantra and idolisation of the individual, of freedom and of liberty – their psyche will unfortunately forever believe in the manifestation of fear. So long as this warped worship remains, fear will win out. Every. Single. Time. 

Fear constantly hinders the individual and clouds their thinking. When you are number one, everyone is after your spot. You are always looking behind your back. Roosevelt said it best when he went on to indicate that, nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyses needed efforts to convert retreat into advance is what creates fear. North America is the only developed nation to be in constant conflict with itself or another foreign power for as long back as its history books go. Since its independence in 1776, the country has Been At War 93% of the Time – 222 Out of 239 Years. The reason? Fear.

After previous mass shootings in the United States, particularly of children at school, the world community stood in solidarity with the U.S. and shared in their grief. But not now. There is a latent ambivalence rising within the world community which is almost treating US citizens with contempt. The US’s problem is as plain as the nose on the its face, except the US keeps wanting to apply cosmetic surgery to its individual nose to hide what the rest of the world views as blatantly obvious.

So why won’t they change? Because of the fear of fear itself. The ratio of firearms to population in the US is now 1:1 – At least one firearm for every man, woman and child in the country and with every mass shooting that ratio grows out of proportion in greater numbers. The other reasons are obvious. The power of the National Rifle Association and its lobbying and lining of political pockets, particularly those of the right. The fear (there’s that word again) that Americans will have their guns taken away from them if restrictions are placed on gun ownership. God dammit! Don’t you take away my AR-15 Assault Rifle… (spoken with a Yankee/Confederate twang). And of course, their Constitution and the Second Amendment.

The right to bear arms was enshrined in the US Constitution at the time of its drafting and many argue is still valid today. Yes, you should always have the right to defend yourself even if that includes the use of a weapon when your life is in danger. When you are in fear of your life. The second amendment was however, enshrined when arms were no more than single shot muskets that by today’s standards would create no greater feeling of safety or security than wielding a tree branch of similar length to the primitive firearm.

When you are in fear of your life.

If you have been in conflict with yourself and/or your neighbours for 93% of your existence, it would be natural to believe that you are in fear of your life. When you are the world greatest superpower and other rogue states seek to usurp your authority it would be difficult not to be fearful. It would be a concept that you couldn’t escape. It would be a fear that you could never run from. But, as another American, Dr. Phil, once said, You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. And lets remember the initial argument: fear is only a concept. Nothing more, nothing less.

America. The world is holding up the mirror for you to see. It is time you looked, acknowledged and changed. Your fear of the future depends on it.

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