“The opposite of love is not hate, it is fear.” Or so says one of my gurus. It is fear that rules us all, more often than not.
It is the game of fear that’s been playing over primetime TV lately. Survival of the fittest in Survivor, Starstruck, Star in a Million, Extra Challenge, etc. – the scenes of losing and the fear of losing, the impending threat of being “voted out,” the tragedy and shame of playing second-fiddle, scenes replayed and played up to the hilt is a tiring refrain by now.
It is the rule of fear that autocratic leftists and rightists want to impose on the rest of us. If an iron fist – or iron curtain - is the system of government they want to foist at all – in lieu of representative governance, it may be an expression of their fear of incremental development, in place of the patience and perseverance needed for a system that respects the individual’s rights.
The stifling of little voices much unheard… it may well be the fear of upsetting the status quo, the fear of being booted out of our comfort zones, in place of the courage needed to seek dialogue, look after the welfare of all stakeholders, or treat everyone as rightful stakeholder.
It is the rhetoric of fear that worms it way into the shaping of public policy. Think-tanks scream their heads off, proposing solutions on the basis not just of empirical studies, but more so, on the basis of fear, on the assumption that man is out there not to fulfill a unique mission and purpose in the worldwide web of civilization, but to compete and become a general pain in the rear, an unnecessary encumbrance. There is this prevalent vision where every mouth is not just a mouth to be fed but a problem to be solved, every warm body a biomass that occupies space and has weight and therefore weighs us all down, together with all our natural resource. We put the emphasis not on the potential energy, but on fear.
It is the corporate policy of fear that dictates the attitude of industry. Which is dutifully met by the working class with the same. The result is deadlock, not dialogue; suspicion, not mutual respect. Employer reduces employee as a spare part for profit, never a partner in creating livelihood, in making the world a better place. Employee reduces employer as somebody or something to get back at, a greed machine to snatch some of the proceeds from. Each company is seen as a deadly rival; each fellow applicant seen as a dangerous competitor.
It is the gospel of twisted fear that’s being preached by the mullahs of terrorism. Which is dutifully met with more of the same gospel by an American far right – the only world power left – that fears a world being run and governed by people who don’t share its ideals. It is the fear of hopelessly closed societies being torn open , it is the fear of the most open society in the world being closed in upon by its perceived enemies. Amy Chua’s view of “a world on fire” is not exactly a baseless exaggeration but a zoom-in on a world viewed through a fearful, cynical prism.
No one is guiltier of the sin of fear than I am over the past few days toward the elections. I have imagined all sorts of grotesque scenarios - and admittedly, for good reason, what with all the rumors of destabilization – if my favored candidates wouldn’t win. “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” That’s indeed how I reacted, thinking that it’s the end of the world if my candidates lose. Would I trust my future to these people?” I quivered. As though everything depended on my choices, as though democratic elections were indeed a battle between good and evil. It was a personal fear, a fear of popular sentiments contradicting my own, a fear of the common Filipino’s judgment.
What a fearful world we are having! Carl Jung has been quoted as saying that whenever there’s a feeling of crisis in our lives, it is because of our perceived loss of choices. In other words, believing in the same gospel of fear being preached to us.
But for those who have faith in the inherent goodness and purity of the human heart, “there’s no such thing as a crisis, only opportunities.”
If fear rules us all, it must be that we do not love.