Fear is a powerful motivator. Human beings (as well as most other creatures in creation) share automatic impulses designed to protect us and preserve us from the many dangers with which we share the globe. But sometimes fear can cause us to do terrible things, things we wouldn’t consider doing under different circumstances.
Fear has been exploited by demagogues and charlatans throughout history, and by none more than politicians of all stripes, shapes and sizes, to lead people down paths they would not normally take. It is therefore not surprising that distrust of government has generally increased around the world.
It was fear that drove the staid, civilized burgers of the Weimer Republic to turn their backs on reason and humanity to elect a monster to a post of power. Once mastered, this fear helped plunge the world into several years of darkness from which 12 million innocent people would not return. This darkness would continue to cost thousands of lives, all because (legitimate) fear kept honest people from speaking out and speaking out.
In the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic, fear is once again at work, leading to consequences and reactions both positive and negative.
On the bright side of the ledger, much of the success of current vaccination efforts (with over 83 percent of the nation rallying for the vaccine) can be attributed to a healthy fear of the deadly consequences of contracting the virus. Canadians, traditionally more confident in their government and health officials south of us, have rolled up their sleeves to join the battle to tackle this pernicious virus and its variants – and despite the growing numbers of Wave Four, our nation is winning this battle.
But on the negative side of the ledger, many of us have turned our fears to those who are unwilling to take the word of politicians and the medical establishment (Oxycontin was not addictive according to many of these and in normal times the former are less trusted than your average used car salesman) and join the vaccinated on the barricades of this war.
Unintentional medical interventions have a long, storied and incredibly horrific history in this country, especially for indigenous peoples. However, there are some among us who would gladly see them impose themselves on their recalcitrant neighbors.
On the negative side of the fear ledger are also those who oppose the voluntary vaccinations of others. It’s hard to understand the motivation of the small handful of protesters rallying at vaccination clinics – crying vitriol and derision against those who voluntarily rally to help crush the virus. But not all who oppose vaccination fall into this odious category; it is important to listen and understand the other’s point of view.
Neither those who shame and insult those who express fears about vaccines or the loss of rights and freedoms they consider inherent in vaccination passports and travel restrictions, nor those who mock and insult those who express their fears towards the unvaccinated. are right on their side, even if they believe it passionately. Both camps are convinced that God and the Fatherland are with them – we cannot claim to speak for the former, but we can categorically state that the latter does not agree with either side, despite these fears.
Passion can be a good thing, but like fear, passion can go too far down the road of intolerance. Insults, shame, intimidation, intimidation and other forms of coercion should never be considered tolerable in a free and democratic society. Those who pile up anti-vaccines in digital forums, at work, or on the streets and those who pile up derision and vitriol about those who voice concerns about the need to vaccinate more people have opinions different from ours are the two sides of a very bad penny.
Very few friends are earned on the playing field by calling names. Instead, positions harden and fears turn into paranoia, damaging mental health at a time when stress and anxiety have reached almost unprecedented levels in our country.
Reasoned debate is the cornerstone of a just and civil society. It is not necessary to scroll to a position different from our own, in fact, understanding another’s point of view is essential to find common ground on which we could stand together in this fight, but the uncivil responses should stay beyond pallor.
Don’t let fear lead us to unreason and hatred – history has shown us that such paths don’t work in the end.