Tag Archives: Fear

The More I Know…

No Fear…the more I know I don’t know.

And it seems the same goes for many others.

The beautiful thing about this paradoxical realization is that I can right now assume I know very little, and save myself the trouble of having to unlearn things I have learned or will learn which are incorrect in actual fact.

And the even more beautiful thing about this is that I can choose to live, not in fear of what this food or that action or this chemical will do to me, and by applying a modicum of sensibility in place of the deluge of information we tend to rely on for facts, live just as safely and so much more happily than many other out there who are enslaved by the fear-mongering crowds of researchers, scientists, do-gooders, busy-bodies, and assorted other self-superior people.

I know this: fear prevents no more than caution, fear protects no better than sense, fear lives shorter and fear dies still fearful.

Fear is not for me.

Fear Not: Manufacturing Dependence

The government of New York City decided it had the right and the responsibility to control the nutritional content of prepared foods sold in that city.

Michelle Obama has chosen to tackle childhood obesity (laudable, though seemingly less lofty than Nancy Reagan’s war on drugs), and joining her are voice shrilling for diet soda on school campuses and low sodium and low sugar meals in school cafeterias.

While the economy is slowing coming back in some ways it isn’t creating any more jobs right now, and with steep tax increases looming, there is little chance of it coming back with any great strength.

People are told by more and more “experts” that they aren’t capable of understanding or grasping the complexities of financial systems or education systems, loan programs or even the job market.

And the great caped crusader stands by ready (and very willing) to do it all for you.

Just sit back and relax, we’ll digest all this horribly complex stuff and feed it to you in small, easily digestible bites. Don’t worry about a thing.

How far must one go before those doing the feeding stop trying to pretend they want your input and just feed you what they decide is best for you, or them?

The problem I see with America right now is that all to many people appear willing to let that happen. Too many have accepted that they aren’t smart enough. Too many have given up trying. Too many are failing and think that is just the way it will be.

There is a fatalism feeding into a general apathy which will quickly create a society not far removed from the mentally and physically sedentary lifestyle portrayed aboard the space ships in Wall-E. Except it won’t be clean and sparkling. It’ll be dank and dirty and filthy and decrepit because there won’t be money for the cleaning lady. She’ll be just a stupid and poor as the rest of us.

President Obama said in a speech stumping for his latest power grab, the financial regulation legislation, that his goal is that the government provide clear and concise information for people making financial decisions.

My response: It’s not your job, it’s not your responsibility, and frankly, it’s none of your business.

There are plenty of sources of information, and it isn’t that hard to determine the veracity of information. And the government will get jealous when they find nobody trusts them to provide information, and so they’ll enforce an effective monopoly on their providing of financial information in the same way they legislated a monopoly for the United States Postal Service.

I don’t think much of what President Obama has championed since his election will last. There is too much energy arrayed against it. However, it is a law of the universe that energy decays and all things tend towards disorder. People are no different, if given an opportunity to bear less responsibility while still appearing to receive the same benefit, many people will shirk their responsibility. And after innumerable such trade-offs, they are left with neither benefit nor responsibility. Babies being fed by and at the will of their masters.

Fear is another powerful force we have to contend with. Fear reinforces inability and drains strength. Fear breeds dependency as few other forces can. If we fear what the salt and sugar in our diets will do to us, we can be controlled by those who claim to have the nutritional answer. If we fear the complexity of a financial situation, we are vulnerable to those who would counsel without conscience.

It seems to me that Christians, of all people, are least likely to be controlled by a grasping government. Due to God’s mantra  “Fear not!” and the recognition that the only thing we have to fear is that which can destroy souls, there is really very little a Christian ought to fear. And a fearless person is one is not prone to leveraging, or fear-mongering, or bullying, or any other tactic employed by unscrupulous power-seekers to enslave others and empower themselves.

Perhaps this is why historic bullies have sought to separate Christians from their fundamental beliefs, to destroy them bodily, or to expunge them from their turf. Fearlessness is strength.

Death Of FUD: Swine Flu Not So Bad

The Swine Flu Virus
The Swine Flu Virus

The internet is a great enemy of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt), and there have been many things this year about which there is great FUD.

FUD is the friend of people who would abuse their power, because there is nothing quite like a good catastrophe to rationalize sweeping change. People who live in FUD are enablers and empower the abuses of those who lead by them.

One of the great fears this year is Swine Flu. It was the end of civilization, the plague that would wreak havoc on our society and it’s systems.

There was breathless analysis of how our society would plug the gaping holes left by the multitudes of sick and dead from this beastly flu.

And now we’re quite sure it’s not really all that bad.

When the fall/winter wave of H1N1 swine flu is over, it will have been no more severe than an average flu season, predict Harvard researcher Marc Lipsitch, DPhil, and colleagues from the U.K. Medical Research Council and the CDC. (from WebMD)

Why were we afraid?

Sure, H1N1, the “swine flu”, tends to affect people traditionally considered low risk for such illnesses. But it’s fatality rate wasn’t anything worrisome once it came down to it.

We were afraid because we didn’t have all the information, and the information we did have told us we ought to be afraid. The media and faux-news outlets so many of us go to for information had bought into the hysteria and spread it as only they can.

WebMD goes on:

Even so, the new numbers are cause for relief if not for celebration. Before the 2009 H1N1 swine flu came along, planners were preparing for a pandemic with a case/fatality ratio of 0.1% — that is, for one death in every 1,000 symptomatic infections.

The Lipsitch team now calculates that the H1N1 swine flu has a case/fatality ratio no higher than 0.048% — and maybe seven to nine times lower, depending on the methods used for calculation.

They are careful to note, though, that should any number of various circumstances occur, the fatality rate will shoot skyward and civilization will be, once again, toast.

The Lipsitch team has reason to want as much FUD surrounding this subject as possible. If the situation is dire and they can convince those who control the purse strings their research is integral to the salvation of humanity, they get more money.

Once the numbers could no longer be inflated, they had to retain their credibility and so gave this nice update. But see how throughout the story they always match the good news with a “but” to keep us ever aware of the necessity for remaining ready for panic.

I’m glad that, even if the swine flu begins to fulfill all the awful claims made of it, I still don’t have to fear.

Because while the internet is a great enemy of FUD, God’s faithfulness is the greatest enemy of FUD. Trust in God does not defeat FUD by simply informing us of the truth of the matter. If that were the case then in times of truly realized terror, Christians would have just as much reason to be terrified as anyone else.

Trust in God defeats FUD because we who trust in Him know there is only so much that can be taken away from us. This world and all it contains can only harm our bodies, these mortal coils. And if the worst were to occur and we were to lose our lives, we would be alive, truly, in heaven with God.

If you believe this, there is truly nothing that can shake us or cause us to fear.

The Internet And The Death Of FUD

The Internet circa 2003
The Internet circa 2003

Latest in our series on the beneficent free market is this wee screed on the internet.

The internet is a good thing. A powerful thing, I think everybody can agree with that. But I would argue it is a good thing too.

I don’t gloss over the terrible things people can find on the internet, the addictions it foments and feeds, the filth it spreads or the lies and slander that so easily pass for worthwhile information on it’s myriad nooks and crannies.

As with anything truly powerful, those who use it best seem to be those who would misuse it and abuse other with it.

But for all the garbage you can so easily stumble upon, there is great good. The potential and realized good both far outweigh the potential and realized evil in the same way the slightest candle will chase and overpower the shadows of the darkest room.

The internet is good because the internet allows information.

This would seem like a tenuous argument at best, but let’s not leave the argument there.

The internet is good because the internet allows information of all types, from all sources, to all consumers.

As Lady Justice holds her scales blindly and impartially, the internet is oblivious to any contextualizing of either the informer or the informed. The information itself can be contextualized, and due to the sheer mass of information on the internet, any single bit can be matched with any other bits to provide context and deeper insight into any piece of information.

But the internet itself does not care. It’s greatest strength is also it’s greatest weakness. The internet does not care what or who or how or why or anything else regarding the information that is posted and shared and disseminated through it’s labyrinthine pipes.

Fear is always the result of misinformation or too little information. From the macro fears of life “does God care for my future?” to the micro fears, “spiders!!!!!”, information is the best and most effective form of fear slaying. Reading the bible (maybe even on the internet) we can read God’s promises regarding our lives, and then looking back through our own lives and seeing the providential Hand working through the good times and the bad, that fear can be slayed by information. Using other information we can determine whether or not a given spider is dangerous to humans.

Thus the greatest enemy of fear is information, real and true information.

Now the obvious argument is that lies and disinformation are so very common on the internet, often masquerading as truth very effectively.

However, the internet also addresses that issue by nature, once again, of it’s open information structure.

Prior to instant background checks and credit reports and the globalized economies, trust was a necessary part of a business relationship. Today we still have trust-based systems for those times when a resume just isn’t enough.

References, people who know something and are in positions of trust and recognition, are often called upon to verify the abilities and character of a person. When one is unsure of whether or not someone else can or should be trusted they confer with a third party who has legitimate reason to be trusted and thereby determine the trustworthiness of the person.

With the internet, in it’s connected and interconnected state, we can easily find legitimately trustworthy people and then infer, from those they trust, other trustworthy sources. It is all about the free exchange of ideas and information.

Further, the antagonism that naturally results in such a free-for-all atmosphere further bolsters legitimate reputations as negative information can only with the greatest of difficulty be quashed or controlled, and more often than not, will free itself regardless the efforts of those seeking to control it. Those legitimately trustworthy will weather and withstand the onslaught and thereby gain further credibility.

The internet is the death of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) in that it enabled anybody to speak the truth, share the truth, and find the truth,and be sure it is the truth easily, and with high levels of certainty. It is the greatest leveler of the masses.

The internet could not exist were it not for the freest society in the world pushing and encouraging and growing it beyond the wildest dreams of those researchers at DARPA so many years ago.

Hey, it even allows me, a 20-something nobody to publish my pointless and babbling rants in a public forum with equal opportunity for success as authors of the first degree and highest reputation.

Max Lucado’s Fearless

Max Lucado's Fearless
Max Lucado's Fearless

I watched the Jet Li movie Fearless twice in the theatre, and again recently with my wife. The film follows the true story of a martial arts master Huo Yan Jia, who through many twists and turns, ends up fighting for the respect of the world. At a time when China was considered a backwards nation inhabited by backwards people in need of managing and exploitation by foreign powers in the early 20th century, Huo Yan Jia stood up to the foreigners, not to defeat them, but to show them the citizens of China were real people deserving of respect.

To take on the might of foreign opinion peacefully required a singularly fearless individual, and the movie shows how Huo Yan Jia became the man for this task.

There is no appreciation of God in the movie, as it follows the spirit of Jet Li’s Buddhism and mysticism. So we know that Huo Yan Jia, in the film, is really only calling on his own strength and ability to stand strong.

If this is what one man alone can do, what about someone who rests on the one true God?

Truth be told, I’m not interested right now in facing down the entirety of world opinion against America. I’m more interested in getting through today.

I’ve been unemployed for 7 weeks now. We’ve not hurt for provision. We are able to pay our bills on time so far. But I’m a man who needs to provide for his family, and I have looked into the murky future and seen little to calm me.

Max Lucado has addressed the fears we all face, or perhaps all the fears we face, in his newest book Fearless. From the fear of not mattering to the fear of death. Fear of the unknown and fear of God getting out of our box. Max takes Christ’s frequent “fear not” and applies it to our fears. Christ’s terror while in the Garden, the disciples fear on the sea of Galilee, the fear of the disciples after Jesus was crucified.

Fear hampers and halters us, it ties knots around our knees and blindfolds over our eyes. Christ knew that effective Christians could not be fearful Christians, and so he frequently, repeatedly and seriously addressed fears of all kinds.

I’ve not been Max Lucado’s biggest fan. He writes at a low level in order to accessible to the vast majority of readers and that concession seems to me to water down his message.

However, in Fearless, there is sufficient meat and content of significance and I found myself digging deeper, considering the bible verses he was using, the quotes he was applying, the anecdotes he was relaying. The book seems small for all it contains.

I highly recommend this book to anyone, whether they fear or not. There are dragons in our world and there will always be one bigger than the last to face and surmount. Having the courage to see clearly and address the dragon with the strength of the Lord is imperative to victory in this life.