I just received yet another robocall from “the social security agency” claiming my number had been suspended. I am not going to write about this since I already preached about that subject a few months ago, but it made me think about how many times every day we are confronted by something designed to make us afraid.
Advertisers used to be the main culprits. Skincare companies preyed on our fear of losing our youth. Clothing companies warned us only their brand would make us popular. Certain brands of vehicles would make us more rugged. For the most part, these were things you could ignore. But not anymore.
Everywhere I turn someone is telling me I should be afraid of something. Just today, I was told this group or that group is going to ruin the country; the brakes on my car may fail; I could get shot while out shopping; sunshine will give me cancer; I could get struck by lightning; eating red meat will kill me; and aliens are ready to swoop down and enslave us all. Yes, that last one is a bit far-fetched, but it was posted on social media, so it must be true.
What I am getting at is that we are slowly being strangled by fear. When did that happen? Our grandparents and great-grandparents never let fear stop them. They literally saved the world - a couple of times. So why are we so susceptible to fear mongering today?
Time magazine published an article a few years ago about a study showing Americans live in a constant state of fear. The research shows that the widespread fear began to build following the Oklahoma City bombing and will continue to grow until we all choose to stop being afraid.
The article also explains rational and irrational fear. Rational fear is something we are born with, basically the flight or fight instinct. We are born understanding we should fear things that can cause us harm. Irrational fear, on the other hand, is sometimes referred to as a phobia. I am terrified of grasshoppers, and birds creep me out. Neither will kill me, so my fear is irrational.
Being made to feel afraid all the time is exhausting. I am ready to stop being afraid and I invite you to join me. I vow to make rational decisions based on actual facts. For example, I will wear my seatbelt in the car and cover my face when I am out in public. I won’t go into dark alleys by myself. And I will try to remember to wear a hat in the sun.
However, I will probably go outside in a rainstorm because the likelihood of being struck by lightening while sitting on my back porch in Arizona is pretty low. I will not be afraid of my neighbor because they are different from me. I refuse to wear tinfoil on my head. And I will most likely have a steak sometime in the next couple of weeks.
But if I’m wrong about the aliens…