Fear is something that affects everyone in one way or another and can have both positive and negative consequences. Everyone from politicians, religious leaders, and large corporations use fear to their advantage. In a world filled with corruption, racism, and war, fear is what controls and motivates us to make changes and protect our rights and health. The widespread use of fear is nothing new, and several great authors and political figures have outlined both the advantages and disadvantages of using it.
“Freedom from Fear,” an article written by Aung San Suu Kyi, outlines how fear is used in economic and political areas. This article explains how fear strengthens the likelihood of corruption and how it is the duty of every individual to stand up for what they believe in and protect those around them. “Don’t just depend on the courage and intrepidity of others. Each and every one of you must make sacrifices to become a hero possessed of courage and intrepidity. Then only shall we all be able to enjoy true freedom.” (Aung San, Bogyoke, 1991)
Corruption and fear are the main causes for the dissatisfaction that so many feel. The power that politicians and business owners have compared to those who follow them is quite significant. Many believe that power is what causes this corruption to develop, however, “it is not power that corrupts but fear.” (Aung San, Bogyoke, 1991) Remaining uncorrupted in a country where fear is common, is not so easy compared to those who live in places that are more fortunate. For example, in a lot of the areas in the United States, we are blessed to have a peaceful and beautiful setting in which corruption has a harder time surviving. On the other hand, those in third-world countries, unfortunately, are met with corruption and the use of fear every day as resources such as food and water are scarce.
Due to the dangerous acts of corrupt politicians such as using chemical weapons on their own citizens, there must be a stronger relationship between politics and ethics. The Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations states that ‘every individual and every organ of society’ should attempt to promote the rights and freedoms to which all human beings regardless of race, nationality or religion are entitled.
If governments and politicians use coercion and fear to rule, peace and prosperity will be harder to obtain and maintain. To fight against this, every citizen must resist corruption, ill will, ignorance, and above all, fear. In America for example, fear is quite common. Whether it is fear of imprisonment, torture, death, property, or failure, we as a nation are all ruled by threats of judicial, social, or physical punishments. In this fear-based environment, it is quite difficult to persuade individuals to stand up for their rights and the rights of others.
Adler states in his article, “Six Great Ideas” that “It is only in the realm of doubt that we can pursue the truth.” This statement shows how we can only doubt our correctness if we first uncover what the truth is. It is important to understand that just because people agree on something, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the truth; after all, at one time in the United States, the majority believed that slavery was just. While opposing viewpoints on issues of truth are impossible to avoid, we must disagree in a respectful and civil fashion. In current U.S. politics, we fail to accomplish this. It seems like every day some new conspiracy or scandal happen, whether it is politicians lying, their ties with foreign governments, or even the President’s stance on climate control. Fear is spreading at an alarming rate, and the fight for truth is something of the past.
Media is among the most influential tools used to spread fear in politics today. Many people in America and abroad believe that electing Donald Trump for President was the most significant mistake that the United States has ever made. President Trump is well known for broadcasting his fear spreading beliefs on Twitter and other social media outlets. Recently, it appears that President Donald Trump colluded with Russia in his election. Russia hacked the voting procedures in many states. This created a large amount of fear that is currently being spread throughout the world. Adler shows us in his writing that the pursuit of truth is essential in the fight to reduce fear.
In Henry D. Thoreau’s essay on civil disobedience, Thoreau states that “government is best which governs least,” and that “government is best which governs not at all.” (Thoreau, 1849). The average citizen of a country is what makes it great, not the government. By respecting rights instead of the laws of a state or country, we can combat the spread of political fear. Governments serve many useful purposes, however today, these are beginning to turn into anything but helpful. We as a nation need to stand up and fight against injustice and inequality from those who are in charge.
The United States government keeps losing its prestige among the American people and the rest of the world due to actions like this. Many United States citizens are living in fear. Fear of global warming due to President Trump’s choice to pull out of the Paris Agreement, fear of war with North Korea, and fear of immigrants being deported. Fear comes from ignorance; ignorance of what is happening and what might happen. It is very similar to an individual’s fear of opening an unknown door in a dark room. This person is afraid because he or she does not know what will be behind that door. The only way to prevent this spread of political fear is by proper education; that door must be opened. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd president of the United States, states that our fourth freedom is “freedom from fear” and that “the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”
The use of fear should be avoided at all costs. Fear is a tool used by many to control the masses. While it works quite well, a citizen should never fear their own government, the government should instead fear the people. In many religions, fear is often implemented to guide their followers away from sin. With Catholicism, strict rules and punishments are common practice. The fear of going to Hell is used and taken advantage over. This same principle applies to politics. President Donald Trump used media-based fear in his campaign and continues to use it to his advantage. Although we are all most likely sick of hearing about what he is doing in the White House, it is important to know what is going on. If we don’t communicate with a government, we will not be able to fix it.
Suu Kyi, Aung San. “Freedom from Fear.” 10 July 1991.
FDR. “Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself.” 1933 Inaugural Address. Donald Pohlmeyer. 2013.
Adler, M. “Six Great Ideas.” Chapter 8. Pursuit of Truth. Web. Accessed 16 Jun 2017.
“Introduction: Crash Course U.S. Government and Politics.” CrashCourse. Web. 2015. Accessed 16 Jun 2017.
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