I remember kid-who-was-me being scared of all kinds of things.
Scared of spiders, scared of dogs, scared of people shouting, scared of tall people looming,(gosh, where could those last two have come from?) scared of falling, scared of bats, TERRIFIED of being lost, or of fingers pointing near the face...
It's odd to remember that, how paralyzing her fear was, how she'd collapse into helpless tears at someone who wasn't much bigger than she was, merely threatening to make her put her hand near a spider web. How she'd hang back on the sidewalk, freaking out because she needed to get past a yard with a barking dog in it, and she couldn't, just couldn't
One of the... hmm, can I legitimately call this a benefit of Multiplicity? Yeah, I think that's actually fair. One of the benefits to how I came together is that that terrified child was a casualty. I 'lost' one person out of the collective, and it was her -- the one who was paralyzed at the slightest terror. I've told this story before; she was a suicide when I was 13, left alone in the exam room after the doctors took the rape kit and went to talk to my mother. She checked out, quit, and went under, never to surface again. Her replacement... well, let's just say that Righ had a personal vendetta against fear.
After that time, whenever anything made me so much as tremble, Righ would be turning on it, staring it down, and taking apart its power, and spitting at the pieces. She caught spiders and put them gently outside. She shouted down barking dogs, and chased them off when they charged at her. She gorgon-stared and spat venom when people tried physical intimidation tactics, and often made them flinch and cower with how vicious she could be. She even went through RK surgery on her eyes, trembling and holding her breath all the way, but determined that that phobia was going down
About the only one she didn't manage to really take apart was the fear of being lost, helpless, dependent on the goodwill of strangers to find safety. That button got shorted out in Munich, when I was trying to get to Vienna by myself, and while that's a funny story (in retrospect,) it's also a long one. I no longer freeze up when I'm lost, though I do fumble, make bad snap decisions, and get flustered trying to sort it out. Bats still bother me though. I'm not scared
of them, but I think I'm probably always going to flinch when they're flying near.
And so the fears I have left now are abstract ones. Fear of the madness of human crowds; fear of the cruelty and sadism of which humans are so readily capable; fear of the consequences of my species. Fears that can't be disarmed by trapping spiders or shouting at dogs. It does explain some of my more... hmm, Gryffindor tendencies though, I guess, that habit of turning and charging into my fears with hobnail boots set to 'crush'. Righ was definitely a Gryffindor though, so it's fitting that her legacy to me should be a sort of courage -- even if it's selfishly motivated. It's in my best interests that my fears not be tools available to people who want to hurt me, and so they must be tools in my own hands instead.
Which, I guess, leads me to the actual point of this long, self-reflective screed; a point that is, I feel, somewhat critical to consider and meditate upon in this election year. Fear, and the motives of people who want you to be afraid.
My philosophy is this: People who want you to be afraid have something to gain from it. This is almost always to your own cost and detriment, but those who preach fear are doing it to take something away from you. And when you comply, when you buy into the fear, you are giving it up to them without contest.
People who preach economic fear this year are hiding the fact that the stock market is essentially two points down from an ALL TIME HIGH. And they're doing it because if the middle classes actually realized that, they'd have irrefutable proof that trickle down economics is essentially a pyramid scheme, and they're being robbed. Deliberately, systematically, maliciously robbed. But so long as we all believe the recession is happening in the finance world, we won't stand up and demand an accounting of where our money's gone.
People who preach immigrant fear are hiding the fact that most Americans lose their jobs to foreigners because their employers send the jobs overseas, not because immigrants come here and take them away. They are sheltering those who send American jobs to overseas sweatshops, and deferring blame onto people who are doing jobs that most white Americans consider beneath them, and which couldn't support a family anyway, because those employers won't pay above sweatshop levels when they don't have to. And they don't have to so long as Americans consider immigrants scary.
People who preach vagina-fear and breeding control are (poorly) hiding the fact that they know damned well they can't get along without women, and that terrifies them. They are outnumbered by their mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters, and dependent upon them in ways that make them scared, and so they want to control their women as resources and subjects rather than meet them as peers.
As for the women who preach the above? I have two words: Stockholm Syndrome.
People who preach fear of the devil are hiding the fact that humans are horrible enough without some invisible goatman to suggest horrid things to them. While people who preach fear of god are hiding the fact that every time they tell you what God wants you to do, it actually profits them.
Even the mother teaching her kid to be afraid of the lit stove is profiting in the small matter of controlling potential injury to her child. But teaching respect for power or risk, and reason-based deduction of potential consequence is not the same as preaching FEAR. Because respect is based in understanding, whereas fear is based in assumption. The chemistry teacher who tells you what liquid nitrogen can do to human flesh is attempting to instill respect for the tools. The pundit that tells you that all Muslims want to kill you because you're white is preaching fear, and he definitely has an agenda in mind. (As recent history has handily proven, I believe.)
People who preach fear are profiting from your belief in it. Always. Sometimes the profit is tangible, spending green, but more often it's just in the coin of power, but there's always someone who's walking away the richer for your every sweating moment. Like taking candy from a baby -- easy, when you don't care about a little crying, or when you can get the kid to think they don't want the candy. Maybe because the candy is 'dangerous.'
But children grow up, and the fear response should grow up too. So in this election year in the US, I suggest that we all examine the fear responses our would-be leaders are asking us to have. Examine just who is it that profits from your flinch, from your hesitation, from your cautious refusal to engage. Who is it that's getting rich from your fears, and what could you accomplish if you were to refuse compliance with that fear? The answers to those two questions, more than anything, will point you at the truths you can believe.
And with those truths in hand, you should then cast your votes -- with your brain, not your jerking knee.This entry was originally posted at http://cluegirl.dreamwidth.org/1370928.html. Please comment there using OpenID.