What is the face of fear? The loss of personal freedom. The loss of power. The loss of control. There are rational fears and irrational ones.
Yesterday and today my fear has been mounting because of the news I read about the Supreme Court’s ruling that gave police officers increased power to enter the homes of citizens without a warrant.
“the Court upheld the warrantless search of a Kentucky man’s apartment after police smelled marijuana and feared those inside were destroying evidence. Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that citizens are not required to grant police officers permission to enter their homes after hearing a knock, but if there is no response and the officers hear noise that suggests evidence is being destroyed, they are justified in breaking in.” – Source: Demorcracy Now!
My first experience with power was within the dynamics of my family. There is the natural law of the adult’s power over a child. There is the mother’s active or passive neglect or attention to the health and welfare of her baby. I have vivid memories of being told “No.” or “Stay.” (Kinda like a dog now that I think of it.) As I got older I got exposed to the dynamics of rivalry between siblings over territory (what are we going to watch? MTV or sports? Who gets the window? I always got back seat middle because I have two elder siblings.) Finally, I cut a path towards financial independence after getting an education and working for many years at a job, and I am finally in the “driver’s seat” or the illusion of it.
I have this fear that the little plot of personal freedom that I have is getting smaller when I hear disturbing news about the policy making of governments at all levels and in the work place. The face of fear is not knowing when, where, and how I will be prevented from exercising free will.
True story. I’m not embarrassed or shy to share this because I use it as an example of how the fear of loss of self-control manifests in the behavior to control others. Three weeks ago on a Friday morning I cheerfully brought a tray of pastries to work. “Happy Friday!” is a common greeting at the office, and a signal of the upcoming weekend when we are free to do what we want with our own time.
A woman in the office who is heavy and has been on a strict diet was in the kitchen making her protein shake. Her diet requires every morsel of food to be measured and meted out at precise times. In the past she’s complained about the mealy texture of the shake, and almost everyday the conversation with her is about her diet. This particular morning she confronted me with a question, “Why do you do that?” I was dumbfounded by the question. “Do what?”, I asked. “Why do you bring in those pastries?” My response, “I like to share.” “You know you’re contributing to peoples’ bad health by bringing those in,” she quipped. I said, “Uh… there’s free will. People can choose to eat it if they want to.” “Yeah, but why do it?” she persisted. “Free will. Choices. It’s the spice of life,” I parried lightly. “No, really, why do you do it?” she asked again. I went back to my first answer realizing this was a dead end conversation, “Because I like to share.”
She made the choice to go on the diet (good for her) but the rest of the office does not have to suffer because of her personal choice. The activist in me decided and acted. I brought treats for the office everyday during following week. I offered two choices: fruits or pastries/cookies. At the end of the day the fruit was left over on kitchen table. People chose what they want to eat.
I understand that it is my co-worker’s fear of not having control over her urges that made her want to control me. But I refuse to buckle to pressure (“You know you’re contributing to people’s bad health…”) This illogical reasoning is like George W. Bush’s argument, “If you quit drugs you join the fight against terrorism.” (A quote from the movie “American Drug War” by Kevin Booth.) What the former president said is a blanket statement that puts drugs and terrorism under one tent, and that is not rational reasoning. With the numerous over-the-counter drugs that can be “cooked-up” then should the pharmaceutical companies producing these drugs be lumped in with terrorist?
What is the face of fear? When someone believes they have the right to exercise control over my ability to choose. Are we really born free? I sometimes wonder. There has been courageous people in history who has fought to maintain the spirit of freedom by exposing lies and telling the truth. Truth can have an unsavory look and taste, and it can also be beautiful and uplifiting. As writers joining other artists we participate in the fight against terrorism by the power of our art that gives insight into our nature.
The first song I learned on the guitar was “Redemption Song” by Bob Marley. It has a verse that says, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.”