Taylor: Culture of fear a cancer on our society

We’re so immersed in fear that we’re afraid of living without it.

We live in a culture of fear.

The recent B.C. election was won on fear—fear that socialist hordes would do irresponsible things. Like throw money at schools. Raise minimum wages. Or even investigate the B.C. Rail cover-up.

The entire United States seems to run on fear. Homeland Security, FBI, CIA, Pentagon, Customs and Immigration, border patrols, Drug Enforcement, and a punitive prison industry—America spends more on protecting itself against what might happen than on anything that is happening. Like health. Or education.

Fear underlies international relations—fear of wars, fear of rebellions, fear of reprisals.

And that’s just the political world.

Consider how much of advertising focuses on fear. Fear of looking old. Fear of failure. Fear of looking poor. Fear of boredom. Fear of loneliness.

And ultimately, fear of dying. In a whole page of newspaper obituaries recently, not one person died. They passed away. They went to be with their Lord. They had an appointment with St. Peter. They were taken home.

Fear is so endemic that we cannot imagine living without our fears.

But a few people have done just that. Not surprisingly, religions formed around them—Krishna, the Buddha, Jesus of Nazareth….

I call myself a Christian, whether or not others would agree. Jesus lived without fear. He consorted with his bitterest critics. He broke religious taboos. He ate and drank with social outcasts. He went to Jerusalem, knowing his presence would inflame local authorities. He didn’t want to die, but he wasn’t afraid of death.

His disciples, by contrast, ran and hid. They denied they knew him. They met behind locked doors, in upper rooms isolated from the street.

And then, one day, something changed. Suddenly those same fearful disciples became fearless. They spoke boldly to crowds. According to the Bible, they even demonstrated in the Temple, confronting the authorities who had crucified their leader.

The real miracle of what Christian churches call Pentecost wasn’t some supernatural phenomenon that people could only describe later as tongues of fire, a mighty wind. The miracle was that a bunch of cowards lost their fear.

Tragically, their successors often exploited fear as a means of exercising power. People were taught to fear eternal punishment in hell, to fear a judgemental God, to fear exclusion from the community.

And sometimes, to fear torture and/or burning for daring to think outside a predefined doctrinal box.

Today, in a time of greater intellectual freedom, we can explore ideas that would have been unthinkable before. But I don’t think many of us can imagine what it might be like to live without fear.

We can imagine being reckless. We can imagine being brave. But not of living in such a way that we no longer fear dying. Or being robbed. Or swindled. Or raped. Or injured in an accident.

So we buy insurance. We lock doors. We hire lawyers to read the fine print on contracts. We choose our friends carefully.

We can’t imagine being totally open—emotionally, physically, socially, and economically—to anyone at all, to anything that happens.

We’re so immersed in fear that we’re afraid of living without fear.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Armstrong’s Jesse Crowe, shown at the home of golf, St. Andrew’s in Scotland, has been named the Royal York Golf Course’s director of golf operations. (Facebook photo)
Armstrong golf pro soars to home course position

Jesse Crowe becomes director of golf operations at Royal York Golf Course

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
Despite additional death, COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional loss in last day

Two North Okanagan-Shuswap rural communities, including Lumby, will receive B.C. government grants to support new jobs and economic opportunities to help them recover from the impacts of COVID-19. (Black Press file photo)
North Okanagan-Shuswap communities collect government grants

Lumby and Blind Bay to benefit to help recover from economic impact of COVID-19

Accelerate Okanagan has announced the six finalists for the 2021 OKGN Angel Summit. The remaining entrepreneurs will compete for a chance to receive a $145,000 investment in their business. (Eryca Stirling photo)
Finalists named for Okanagan entrepreneur summit

Accelerate Okanagan has named the final six competing entrepreneurs in the OKGN Angel Summit

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Shuswap firefighters responding to structure blaze find cannabis grow operation

RCMP investigating, attempting to track down owner of property

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: The freedom to read

Books have been challenged many times in the past

Most Read