I stopped for a second today and thought about all the ways authority figures try to instill a sense of fear in us throughout our lives.
Parents use punishments ranging from time-outs to spankings at home. Then, they usually hand it over to a religious figure to do some good old-fashioned spiritual fear-mongering.
As a whole, our society puts a lot of stock in what comes out of the television. Nothing but fear and partisanship coming out of that.
The police are fellow citizens, but they might as well be Storm Troopers, considering the reputation and wary regard an average person may hold of them. They hold the power to punish, and some may wield it judiciously, but others cause us to see them as another enemy.
If you don’t act right, you’ll go to the principal’s office.
If you do X, Y, or Z, you’ll go to Hades.
If you don’t stay inside this box, your family may give you curious looks because you don’t exactly adhere to their comfort level. If you’re too far outside the next box, you may find it hard to be in your community or state or country… or maybe even the human race as a whole. All these boxes – some are good (like, hmm, don’t kill others), but some seem like real ticky-tacky nonsense (an example from childhood: clapping during church services being a make-or-break stance).
The boxes, these lines, these rules are there to maintain control. As a legal scholar, I get the purpose. As a student of life, I see the reasons. But as a person observing the practical effects of this desire to control, I can’t accept it sometimes.
What happens when the rules are arbitrary? What is there to do when we have a tyrant in our own personal lives, trying to exert their control simply for the sake of having control?
I can turn the tv off, shut Rush Limbaugh or Rachel Maddow down. But it’s different when it’s a friend, a parent, a spouse, or whomever… or is it?
What do I do when I won’t lie about myself or allow my life to be dictated, and then receive threats about never seeing someone again? That looks a lot like terrorist tactics (and if Harrison Ford taught me anything in the early 90’s, it’s that we don’t negotiate with terrorists)…
But it wasn’t some outside threat; this fear-based power grab came from inside my own camp (or what I thought was my own camp).
We are told to put so much stock in our people, our team. We get admonished when we hesitate to reconcile with family. But what happens when they are the problem, the source of fear, hatemongers, instruments of stress and strife?
Worse yet, what can there be done when that person’s inculcated stance causes them to feel justified in their hate-mongering?
Why have we fractured into smaller and smaller factions out of fear, rather than come together to reach the higher ideals everybody claims to be striving for? Rather than share our experiences and learn from one another, we pass judgment when someone’s path doesn’t match ours.
It baffles and discourages me.
Maybe that’s where we’re headed… instead of asking someone what their religion is, maybe the test will be whether they use that religion out of fear or out of love. Instead of worrying about the gender of a person’s spouse, the real concern will be whether he or she is a good spouse, dedicated to their relationship, making something good in the world, etc.
All the fear- and hate-mongering has got to go. This post is rambly & all over the place, but it’s the stream of thought that came out when I sat down… it’s upsetting to me to see & feel all the ways we’re put-upon with forced ideals and scare tactics… I guess there’s a thin line between teaching and indoctrination, or between the proactive decision to do good and the defensive adherence to simply not be considered a bad person.
This idea keeps popping up… hopefully I’ll get some clarity soon.