Art by Paul Klee

When people look at all of the crimes being committed in the US, from corrupt and unhinged leadership to murder in the streets by emboldened hate groups, it can be difficult to see the fuel that drives such things. A good portion of it is ignorance, another is projection and feelings of disenfranchisement. But, at its foundation, these small-minded, petty people are ruled by fear.

It’s a difficult thing, facing up to the truth. Especially when it comes to our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Getting up in the morning, looking in the mirror, and seeing something you do not like — that’s hard and disturbing, on a very deep level. Being afraid of those things — the behaviors that have hurt others, the decisions you’ve made that threw you off your pace and broke hearts, the beliefs you had that turned out to be false or misinformed — is natural. Fear kept our ancestors alive. Fear warns us of danger. Fear can save your life.

Fear can also kill.

People have feared “the other” since time immemorial — those of different skin color, with a different language, living and thinking in different ways, were “the enemy.” People were afraid of prophets, philosophers, Jesus of Nazareth — and they killed them. People were afraid of native populations, and wiped them out. People were afraid of Communism, and founded toxic ideologies in response, waging pointless wars that cost countless lives in pointless struggle, and creating arsenals that could literally end all human life on this planet.

And now here we are, in the 21st century, still dealing with that bullshit.

We live in an age where vast stores of information are at our fingertips. The means exist to have healthy, enlightened debates on our climate, our society, our future, and ourselves. We have a plethora of tools to look into, discern, and correct those things about ourselves and the world around us that we can change, that we must change. We have so much power.

Some are afraid of that power.

To see change affecting others can be terrifying. Be it for good or ill, seeing a new side or a newer version of someone we used to know is off-putting. If it’s for the better, and that person is living a healthier, more thoughtful, more loving life, it’s worth celebrating. If it’s for the worse, it must be called out, if not condemned.

It’s understandable to fear change.

It is not understandable to fear skin color, gender, sexual orientation, or personal philosophies.

It simply isn’t logical. What affect do these aspects of another have on your life? None that I can discern. It’s that vestigial, knee-jerk fear of “the other” that informs the marches, the lit torches, the toxic thoughts, the gestures of hate, the murders. No matter the flimsy justification, underneath the bile is fear, the fear of a child, the fear of the ignorant, the fear of the lost.

And make no mistake. These fearful are going to lose.

Because love always triumphs.

On Fridays I write 500 words.

Art: Mask of Fear, by Paul Klee