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  • Writer's pictureSarah Mason

Fear Is Not an Argument

Fear drives us to do whatever we must to feel safe. When our safety is threatened, our needs are not being met on that basic level so we forgo love, justice, and morality until we can meet our need for safety. When leaders use fear as reasoning, they take advantage of our fragility, they upend our hierarchy of needs. Thus, as humans, we will execute people for witchcraft without evidence, we will attack a man with the same surname as a terrorist, we will euthanize a dog exposed to a sickness before even knowing if dogs can carry sickness.

As humans, we will sign away our rights, we will give up the rights of others, we will vilify anyone different if our safety feels threatened. We don’t have to be in danger to do this; we simply must feel endangered. We will justify killing, imprisoning, and outcasting even a child if we feel unsafe. You have only to look at history to see this pattern.

Leaders who appeal to fear are taking advantage of the people who trust them. When leaders use fear to justify an ends to a means, they are failing to use logical reasoning for their arguments, for their decisions, and they are using their followers as weapons against those the leaders label as threats and dangers.

We have to use our own minds. We have to use our own reasoning. We cannot be driven by cherry-picked evidence of isolated examples of danger. We cannot be prompted to hasty action out of fear alone. Because while our leaders are responsible for inciting fear, we are still responsible for the actions of a fear-crazed mob. There is a time for fear, but it must be duly justified and it must be responded to rationally. Even in justified fear, we can respond inappropriately, we can respond hatefully.

So choose logic. Choose rationality. Choose to question fear even when it is hard. We cannot label ourselves as kind, compassionate, good people if we only are such in the easy times. It is being loving, helpful, understanding, and generous when it is the most difficult that counts.


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