The Sum of All Fears

“Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” — Yoda

Most of you have become accustomed to the quotes above. We call them hooks in the English world. Yoda’s words always sound wise, but we must remember they are but dialogue written by a mediocre science fiction writer. Well, at least he was mediocre at writing dialogue. We see these words littered throughout different literature though.

They sound somehow similar to the four noble truths of Buddhism. Suffering exists. Suffering exists because of human desire. If we want to end all suffering we would end all human desire. We do that by following the eightfold path. The things you own end up owning you. All of these fortune cookie like sayings have one thing at their core. We have stuff and we are afraid to lose it. If you want to activate our hate then you tap into that fear.

A jackass at my daughter’s school has decided to call in bomb threats on two consecutive days. The local police are on the case. The sheriff’s office is on the case. The FBI is on the case. I’m sure every teacher and principal are studying the voice on the other line to see if they can identify him. There are all kinds of silly rumors as to why this kid is doing this. The answer is simple. He wants others to feel afraid because that somehow gives him power.

Calling in terroristic threats is a felony. This kid will be found and it won’t be pretty when they do. However, that knowledge in the background hit me when I heard an Eva Guzman ad again this morning. She is running for attorney general in Texas. She will presumably have to go through Ken Paxton (the current attorney general who has been under indictment the entire time he has been attorney general) and the infamous Louie Gohmert. You have to try really hard to outslime those two.

We tell students that of the three logical appeals, pathos is easily the most powerful and the most effective. We tug at the heart strings. We get you to feel the feels. We activate fear. We activate sadness. We activate joy. We activate hate. Except hate is not a natural emotion. Hate has to come from somewhere. It usually comes from fear.

Guzman’s ads tell us that she will tackle the immigration problem as attorney general. The only thing is that she doesn’t call it a problem. She calls it an invasion. As you might suspect, she also goes into the other stereotypes and misconceptions about them stealing our resources, committing crimes, and coming after you and your grandchildren. Democratic policies are making it worse and we are at a crossroads.

Except we aren’t. Illegal immigration is not a growing problem. Illegal immigrants are not committing crimes at the same rate. It is illegal for them to collect social security. It is illegal for them to get welfare. Hell, it is illegal for them to work at all. So, what exactly are we doing here?

It is the same thing as abortion. The Guzman’s of the world work everyone into a lather. They report about all of the evil going on in the world. They talk about the need for prosecutors and judges to get a handle on abortion when it seems we are getting a handle on it just fine. These ads are long on emotion. They want you to feel afraid. They want you to feel angry. They want you to hate. They just aren’t all that long on facts. Facts don’t help them. Facts just get in the way of a good story.

The 64,000 pound elephant in the room hits you squarely across the chest when you realize that Eva Guzman (and those like her) are using the exact same tactics as that kid calling in a bomb threat. The reality of Guzman’s threats are about as valid as the boy’s threats. There’s no bomb. There’s no invasion. The world isn’t going to hell in a ham basket because someone decided to get an abortion or because a boy decided to become a girl or vice versa. Oh, it might be going to hell alright, but it won’t be because of any of those things.

The hell we fear is a hell of our own creation. It was one that spins out of our fear. It is one that comes from the notion of life as a zero sum game where everything someone else gets is something that we don’t. It’s a fear where we point at people that aren’t like us and turn their desire just to exist into an existential threat to our humanity and culture. Be afraid. Be very afraid and while you’re at it why don’t you try on this hate for size. It fits you well.

Author: sbarzilla

I have written three books about baseball including The Hall of Fame Index. I also write for You can follow me on twitter @sbarzilla.

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