Fear-Mongering 101 (& Courage)

<drafted June 18/10, i.e., a week pre-G20 summit in Toronto>

As I sat over my beer-y lunch today (I don’t usually drink beer in restaurants at lunchtime, but then these are not usual times!), my good friend Barb & I were talking about…hmmm…this, that & the other thing.

A guy sitting at an adjacent table asked to join us because he found the things he heard us discussing so compelling (I think we’d been talking about some of the speakers I’d heard at the Network of Spiritual Progressives conference I’d just returned from in Washington, D.C.).

We got onto world politics, Canadian politics &, inevitably (it seemed to be all anyone I ran into was talking about), the upcoming G20 meetings in Toronto.

Like so many people one speaks to these days, he is planning to get out of the city when the G20 world leaders are in town.

He’s not afraid of the G20 dudes; he’s afraid of the protests – the protesters (some of whom I know, & will be joining) – & the police (hmm. Guess he was right on the money there, as later events have shown...).

Me, I’m far more afraid of our so-called “leaders” who are fast creating a culture of fear – & the fear they are … mongering.

(Someone at the NSP conference in Washington – Rabbi Michael Lerner, now that I think of it – had said rather than “Love thy neighbour as thyself,” we are being taught & told to “Suspect your neighbour as yourself” – & he got that right, didn’t he? What a culture…)

My friend Barb said to me she thinks of herself as “just middling” – middle-class, middle-aged, a middle-of-the-road moderate who is “astonished by what I see happening around me. I am grateful & happy to pay my share of hospitals, roadways, support for seniors & single parents, etc. etc. But a billion dollars for a fake lake fantasy is nothing short of obscene! That money could be spent on a video conference call – that’s all the G8/G20 “leaders” really need. The remaining money could be spent on

  • Sending shoes & teachers to Haiti
  • Lester Brown’s Plan B – Mobilizing to Save Civilization
  • Diverting military funds (comedian/social commentator Bill Maher says you could cut the U.S. military budget by 50% & still have more forces & armaments than all the other countries in the world combined)
  • Green energy
  • Green jobs
  • & environmental rescue/reclamation – which can be just as profitable for (small) corporations as planet-destroying is for the large ones.”

Well. That’s where my blog draft notes ended.

All I really want to add here now is that there was so much fear-mongering over the darn G20 summit in Toronto that I was repeatedly advised by friends & family to stay away.

I’ll admit I’d never even heard of the “Black Bloc” – nor had I any idea whatsoever that the Toronto police (beefed up with additions, I understand, from many other police forces) would get so out of line.

Let’s just conclude on this note: fear-mongering is what our leaders & the media do – & they do it well – & they know it, too. They know how bloody susceptible we all are to fear tactics.

And I hate it! I’m not super-human or anything. I too have my fears & fearful moments.

But I think we could all stand to work on growing some courage.

& we might want to ask ourselves this: what the devil do we think these dudes are up to – our police & our politicians? When we are not looking? I’d say it looks a lot like they are up to no good. They sure do seem to have a lot of secrets, don’t they?

Is this the way we want our society to go – to grow? Are we really “too busy” to care??


p.s. If you'd like to read the numerous postings I did on the 2010 G8/G20 summits in Toronto, please go to the alphabetical Index at the top of the blog & scroll down to the 'G' section. There are quite a few of them there...

Relevant Quotations:

“Courage is very important. Like a muscle, it is strengthened by use.” – Ruth Gordon

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” – Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)

“Great things are done more through courage than wisdom.” – German proverb

“May the world’s feast be made safe for women and children. May mothers’ milk run clean again. May denial give way to courageous action. May I always have faith.” – Sandra Steingraber in Having Faith

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the Quiet Voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’” Mary Ann Radmacher

“There is fierceness at work here. There is no other explanation for the raw courage and heart displayed over and again in the people who march, speak, create, resist, and build. It is the fierceness of knowing we are human and intend to survive. To witness the worldwide breakdown of civility into camps, ideologies, and wars, to watch the accelerating breakdown of our environmental systems, is harrowing and dispiriting.

But immune systems do fail; this movement most certainly could fail as well. What can help preserve it is the gift of self-perception, the gift of seeing who we truly are. We will either come together as one, globalized people, or we will disappear as a civilization. To come together we must know our place in a biological and cultural sense, and reclaim our role as engaged agents of our continued existence. Our minds were made to defend ourselves, born of an immune system that brought us to this stage in our development and evolution. We are surfeited with metaphors of war, such that when we hear the word defense, we think attack, but the defense of the world can be truly accomplished only by cooperation and compassion. Science now knows that while still in diapers, virtually all children exhibit altruistic behavior. Concern for the well-being of others is bred in the bone, endemic and hardwired. We became human by working together and helping one another. According to immunologist Gerald Callahan, faith and love are literally buried in our genes and lymphocytes, and what it takes to arrest our descent into chaos is one person after another remembering who and where they really are.” – Paul Hawken in Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being & Why No One Saw it Coming. <Pg. 165>

“Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it.” – Tori Amos

“Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality of those who seek to change a world which yields most painfully to change.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy, in a speech in Capetown, South Africa, June 6, 1966.

“There is only one courage, and that is the courage to go on dying to the past. Not to collect it, not to accumulate it, not to cling to it. We all cling to the past, and because we cling to it we become unavailable to the present.” – Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

“The most alarming sign of the state of our society now is that our leaders have the courage to sacrifice the lives of young people in war but have not the courage to tell us that we must be less greedy and less wasteful.” – Wendell Berry, quoted in Depletion and Abundance – Life on the New Home Front or, One Woman’s Solutions to Finding Abundance for Your Family while Coming to Terms with Peak Oil, Climate Change and Hard Times, Sharon Astyk, New Society Publishers, 2008.

“The world shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”  – Anaïs Nin

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” Mark Twain

“The most important lesson the struggle taught me and my friends is that no one is endowed with remarkable courage. But courage is another name for learning to live with your fears. Now, after eighteen years and the Chilean Truth Commission, courage has again evolved a new definition: the guts not to give in to easy justice. To live within the confinements of reality, but to search day after day for the progressing of one’s most cherished values. Merciless. Accountable.” – Chilean philosopher & activist, José Zalaquett, who served on the Chilean Truth Commission, quoted in Country of My Skull – Guilt, Sorrow & the Limits of Forgiveness in the New South Africa, by Antjie Krog (pg 32).

“An individual can resist injustice, but only a community can do justice.” Sanctuary movement leader

“A citizen’s job is to keep his mouth open.” Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop

“When the forms of an old culture are dying, a new culture is created by a few people who are not afraid to feel insecure.” – Rudolph Bahro

“Be COURAGEOUS! It’s the only place that isn’t crowded.” – Sign in Body Shop “Bored” Room