It’s not my imagination: there’s a lot of fear in our communities these days.
Who wouldn’t be afraid right now, given the recent appalling acts of individuals whose stated aim – after all – is to spread terror?
Terrorists know fear to be a powerful weapon and a winning strategy.
They know fear makes people stupid; it shuts down our ability to reason, stunts our intellect and strangles our imagination. As our oldest and most primitive response, fear reduces us to hysterical, confused animals.
Worse still, it’s contagious. A rational, visceral fear of being beheaded can quickly become an irrational, communal fear of our neighbours, particularly those who look different from us. Fear makes us bigots and racists; it makes us say and do appalling things to each other. It divides us just as we need to come together.
But for all its power, fear has a critical weakness; it can’t work without ignorance.
Think of all the things that used to terrify you but no longer do; what happened to them? They lost their hold over you the minute you began to learn more.
See, there’s really only one kind of fear; the fear of the unknown.
The more you know, the less you fear.
And now’s the time for each of us to understand more and fear less.
Because all this fear makes us reactive, even violent.
It makes us vengeful, even savage.
It makes us behave in ways that spread still more ignorance and fear.
It makes us… like them.
Which is exactly what they want.