Comment by Dennis Prager
The most famous quote of Franklin Roosevelt, the longest serving president of the United States, was, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
One wonders if any world leader today would or could say the same. We are living in the Age of Fear.
All my life, I think love and hate are the two strongest human emotions.
But thanks to recent events, I have changed my mind.
I understand now that for most people, fear is the strongest emotion.
In fact, I’ve found that it’s possible to get people to do anything if you scare them enough. Specifically, irrational fear.
For example, fear of COVID-19 is rational. But the media and the government have fueled irrational fears. That’s why millions of healthy people stay indoors for a year or more, why so many people wear face masks when walking or sitting alone outdoors, and why so many parents don’t allow their children to stay indoors. Their children play with other children for a year or more, even though the mortality rate from COVID-19 in children is significantly lower than the mortality rate from influenza in children.
All of this is due to unwarranted fear. It turns out that fear is not only stronger than love and hate; In most people, it is stronger than reason. And when it does, it is far more destructive – to individuals and to society – than rational fear.
What is rational fear? When a soldier is afraid to go to war, it is reasonable. Soldiers cannot let fear control their behavior, but their fear is not unreasonable. If a vandal points a gun at you, you will feel fear. If you are diagnosed with cancer, you will experience fear.
Fear of reason is not necessarily a bad thing. It is the irrational fear that causes the most harm – to yourself, to others, and to society as a whole.
The Salem witch trials in the 17th century exemplified the irrational fear that led to the crime: the murder of women believed to be witches.
You would think that the Enlightenment of the 18th century, with its focus on reason and science, would have greatly reduced irrational fear.
It does not have.
To cite a few examples, an improbable (but not small) number of Americans – often the most well-educated – have banned their parents from seeing their grandchildren, because the grandparents or grandchildren were not vaccinated. room. They did this despite the fact that the number of young people infected with COVID-19 is close to zero and despite the fact that there are very few cases of children infecting adults. Sweden remained open to all students under the age of 16 for the duration of the pandemic, and studies since then have confirmed that the risk of infection among students for Swedish teachers is extremely low. That is the power of irrational fear.
To take another modern example, many people have decided not to have children because they fear that a warming planet is an “existential threat” to life. Now, it’s reasonable to be concerned about climate change, but not having children because it’s irrational. And it’s even more absurd. Their parents are often supportive of this decision, even though they desperately aspire to be grandparents.
Unreasonable fear is also a major source of hatred. People hate what they fear. It was the Germans’ irrational fear of the Jews – who made up less than 1% of the German population – that led to the unique evil known as the Holocaust.
With the terrible power of fear, what can you do to be less afraid?
The first thing you must do is determine if your fear is rational or irrational.
And that can only be achieved by thoroughly studying the issue – whatever it may be: global warming, pandemics, racism or any other divisive topic.
For example, black people are said to be afraid of white police because white police are racist and want to harm them. This is largely an irrational fear. It is documented that in any recent year, the number of unarmed black Americans killed by police officers has been less than 20 – nearly all of which pose a serious threat to the lives of officers who have been killed by police. kill them.
Another example: Credible scientists and other experts who admit that global warming is happening, but claim that it is not an existential threat to life, has been denied. dismissed as “unscientific” and their views suppressed. Read them, and many of your fears will be allayed. (You may even decide to have children.)
Most of the fear is caused by governments and their allies in the mass media and Big Tech, who in turn suppress opposing opinions. So understand that when you’ve only heard one opinion and that opinion is designed to scare you, chances are your fear is irrational.
Determining whether your fear is justified or irrational is one of the most important things you will do. The quality of your life and the life of society depends on you making that difference.
Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio host and radio host. His latest book, published by Regnery in May 2019, is “The Rational Bible,” a commentary on the book of Genesis. His film, “No Safe Spaces,” was released for home entertainment nationally on September 15, 2020. He is the founder of Prager University and can be contacted at dennisprager .com.
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