“’Then you’re watching television, you’re watching the news, you’re being pumped full of fear, there’s floods, there’s AIDS, there’s murder, cut to commercial, buy the Acura, buy the Colgate, if you have bad breath they’re not going to talk to you, if you have pimples, the girl’s not going to fuck you, and it’s just this campaign of fear, and consumption, and that’s what I think it’s all based on, the whole idea of ‘keep everyone afraid, and they’ll consume.’” – Marilyn Manson
There is something wrong with the world. There are too many of us. We are limping through a broken economy. We are bearing witness to the financial collapse of neighbouring countries. We are sexualising our children at a young age. We are helpless in the face of atrocities in Baghdad, Syria and Iraq. We have no connection with our leaders. We have automated killing machines in the skies above us that are designed specifically for murder. We are losing our grip on the very nature of humanity. There is something very wrong.
Recently I have been feeling The Fear. I can feel it on my skin and I see it in the eyes of others. I can smell it. I think of myself as a relatively intelligent person with a sound moral outlook. I feel compassion and empathy for the struggle of others. I would like to think I’d be one of the first to help at the scene of an accident. I will do anything for those closest to me regardless of the impact on my strange little life.
However, since becoming a Father, I have become scared. I am becoming fiercely aware that the world is darkening. It is fair to say that becoming a parent has given me a fresh pair of eyes when looking at the world. I cannot help but shake in helpless panic. I cannot shake the feeling that there is something very wrong.
The other night I had a confrontation with our neighbours. These neighbours are made up of a large family living in a small living space and, as a result they make a lot of noise. This noise often goes on late into the night and sometimes into the early morning. On this occasion their antics had woken Eve repeatedly. My wife and I could not get to sleep. This being approximately 3 am in the morning it became increasingly frustrating.
Before I even knew what I was doing I was outside of their door screaming into their intercom. I was obscene. I was horrifying. I was furious. I became, quite simply, a monster. A monster willing to do anything to protect the wellbeing of his family. I am not proud of myself nor do I think anger and violence is ever the answer. I did however act instinctively and it made me scared of what I am capable of doing should a similar situation arise.
My neighbours are ethnically different to me. They have a set of strong religious beliefs. As do many of my other neighbours. To me this is not a problem. The only problem with religion I have is that particular religions teach those that adhere to it that they are better than those who do not. It teaches those with belief in a system of ideas that they are separate from others, that they are exempt from judgement and that they are excused to behave as they feel they should. As far as I can understand, with my limited knowledge, religion has led to bloodshed, segregation and war countless times over.
However religion isn’t the problem here. The problem is that my own neighbours while living next door to me may as well be living a thousand miles away. There’s a separation between us and an inherent lack of understanding and compassion. There’s a separation because we are terrified of each other. It has nothing to do with religion but it would be ignorant to think that it has no part in the bitter make up of our societies.
I am fearful of the gap between all of us is widening. Whether through class, religion, money or attitude we are becoming scared of each other. We fear our neighbours. We fear poverty. We fear our own governments. We fear for our own lives. Doesn’t it all seem so unnecessary? Why should we allow ourselves to be ruled by fear?
I realise now that I was more scared than angered by my neighbours. I managed to get a taste of what it could be like should the alleged differences between human beings widen even further. The idea of a world in which we are all one is somewhat naïve and short sighted. One day it will become necessary to pick a side. It’s happening already as you should be aware.
Our children are going to grow into a world very different to ours. Unlike previous generations we are muffled. We are quiet and apathetic. We are quite happy to escape into our paradigms of total consumption even when we living in close proximity to people who are oblivious to kindness and basic nutrition. We are more than happy to know our place and stay there. So now my thoughts turn to how to bring up my daughter. I’m keen to teach her survival techniques, a martial art, how to speak Spanish and the very art of self-discipline. All of these considerations are born in courage rather than fear. We find courage in our ability to control our own environment.
And every day, every second, every shimmering moment that I see her face I cannot help but smile. The world is a better place with her in it. I refuse to allow the world to terrify her as it does me. It’s a beautiful place if you have the courage to look hard enough.