Fear: An American Legacy
If Election 2016 has taught me anything, it is how dangerous fear is, and how deeply it is ingrained in the American social fabric. It makes sense when you think about how violent American culture is, of course we are afraid.
America’s birth was anointed in fear, violence and greed. There was fear of the unknown which created the frontiersman and the cowboy trope. There was fear of the native people that caused mass genocide on this land. There was the fear of black people which led to centuries of oppression, genocide and mass incarceration. This continues today as we see the fear of Muslims, immigrants, and even the earth we live on.
America has always been susceptible to fear. It is an incredible weakness.
We are terrified and so we project ourselves as fearless, strong, indomitable, in order to intimidate others into submission. We do not possess true strength, as a nation, to create strong ties out of mutual respect rather than fear. America projects itself as overcoming great obstacles and we project ourselves as survivors. The reality is much different. We are much more fearful than we ever acknowledge. Unacknowledged fear is a dangerous demon.
This American fear causes us to snuff out innocent people in an effort to “kill or be killed.” Where often, no previous threat existed. Our American government’s relations with its own people also show the gaping incongruencies in our “American values.”
Who we say we are and how we behave are miles apart.
To display courage requires fear. Courage is moving forward in the face of fear. In that sense, America is probably one of the most courageous countries on earth, because we are one of the most fearful. There is nothing noble in that.
This election is rife with fear. There is fear mongering from all sides and within every speech and advertisement.
I was there along with most people terrified and worried about the election. America feels more dangerous than ever. It feels like the “melting pot” is boiling over. I am sometimes worried for myself and my children and my friends and family. I have experienced more hatred and aggression this year than in the past.
The level of prejudice and blatant celebration of ignorance is something I haven’t seen in my lifetime. Yes the prejudice and racism is part of America and has always existed, but in my lifetime it hasn’t always been publicly flaunted the way it has been the past few years.
I reflected on this and on the fear I was feeling. Then, I thought of the numerous other times I’ve been afraid. I remembered a lecture I attended where the speaker explained that stress occurs because we think we are ill prepared for the future. We experience stress because we think we can’t handle what’s to come. I recalled every time I felt frozen with fear and I thought of how I came out of it. I realized I came out of it by actively acknowledging that I was afraid and then preparing myself for exactly what I was afraid of.
How will we survive this?
My Intentions for Election 2016 and beyond
I refuse to continue this legacy. I refuse to allow fear to take over my heart. When fear takes over I can not think, and I can not move forward. I become frozen and unmovable. That is not an option for us right now. We must fight the fear.
I truly believe that fear is the opposite of love. So in my resistance of fear, I will actively grow love in every aspect of my life. I need it more now than ever.
I will not ruminate and worry and grow the fear.
I will not ignore the truth, and I will not pretend that I feel safe in this world as I am experiencing it right now.
I will not be hateful to the people that I believe are repeatedly choosing fear, ignorance and prejudice. However, I will not force myself to feel positively about them or their choices that directly harm me and people I care about.
I will actively focus my attention on those who are choosing love and humanity. There are people in our communities who are tirelessly creating bridges for our survival and these are the people I want to be with, these are the people I want to focus on, these are the people I want to emulate. These are the people who are moving past fear and being driven by love for their community.
I will be vigilant in loving my community, myself and my family. Letting the people who hold me up know how grateful I am, and reminding them that we will be all right.
I will stay alert to any harm that may threaten us, and I will stay open to the good things that are also waiting to be experienced.
I will spend Tuesday with my children, holding them close, taking nature walks, singing songs and building forts just like any other day. I will make them a beautiful dinner and try to get them to eat all the veggies.
I will put them to bed and take a long, hot, healing bath, condition and braid my hair, oil my skin, put on my most comfortable nightgown, go to sleep early and let the chips fall as they may.
I will wake up on Wednesday fresh, and strong and ready to move forward with my family. For us, that may mean any number of things, but I will not spend my precious days wringing my hands and worrying about what might happen and what future my fellow Americans may choose.
We won’t all make it out of this era alive. We, as a people, have survived worse. Our ancestors are riding with us. While this time in history feels like a breaking point, it feels like we are about to drop off the edge of a cliff, I can’t name a point in history that didn’t feel that way to the people living it.
There is more for all of us, and the only way we are getting out of this mess is by going through.
I encourage everyone to be thoughtful and mindful of the intentions they are setting over the next few days, weeks and years. This is not over regardless of tomorrow’s outcome. I am sending love and gratitude to you. Thank you for taking the time to read this and witness the intentions I have set for myself in this tense time. Feel free to share your thoughts and intentions here.