OPINION – Anyone who was around during the 1980s should remember First Lady Nancy Reagan’s matronly advice to youngsters on how to respond when a pusher offered them illegal drugs. She told them to, “Just say no.”
This phrase became the centerpiece of a long-term campaign to create awareness about drug abuse and to bolster the moral resolve of America’s young people in resisting not just recreational chemistry, but also premarital sex and violence.
We really could use a similar “just say no” campaign today aimed at adults who are being targeted by a new, insidious kind of pusher.
This pusher is cunning, subtle, and tireless when it comes to peddling his product. He knows how to play on our emotions and how to exploit those moments when we are tired or weak and are more likely to give in to his persuasion. He has a well-organized, vast distribution network that can be accessed almost anywhere, at any time.
What starts as a small sampling of his product – usually out of curiosity – can quickly turn into a growing habit that must be fed daily. We come to crave what the pusher is selling us. It occupies every spare minute of our thoughts. It makes us toss and turn at night.
When we become dependent upon this substance, it changes the way we see others and the way we see ourselves. We find ourselves doing and saying things that would have been unthinkable in a more clear state of mind. Over time, we may abandon our deepest principles due to the effects of this powerful, addictive drug.
The pusher, in this case, consists of a great number of our political leaders and their mules in the mass media. The drug, as you may have surmised, is fear. Or you may recognize it by its more popular street name: terror.
For weeks now, every hourly newscast has led with breathless reporting on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, crisis and how our leaders are working night and day to face what is being described as a “threat like nothing we’ve ever seen.”
The fear being peddled to the American public is almost palpable. Its object is to keep us afraid so that we’ll go along with anything our leaders tell us we must do. With every terror-filled official pronouncement, we are expected to panic, irrigate our skivvies and turn to our leaders to keep us safe.
Somehow, their efforts to secure our safety always seem to come at a significant cost to personal freedoms. But the effects of fear on the minds of decent, everyday Americans is so strong that they’ll actually thank their public officials for becoming more authoritarian and militaristic.
The addiction to crisis, terror, and uncertainty creates a desire for safety at any cost. So strong is this desire, that few people realize what they are giving up until it is too late.
Writer Claire Wolfe has warned of this for many years; she said:
Fear is the most potent of the power-mongers. They spook us with some threat — which may be real or illusory. Then they promise to save us from it — as long as we give up just a few more billion dollars, a few rights, a little of our privacy, a lot of our independence, and ultimately all of our freedom.
Breaking an addiction to fear and crisis starts with admitting that there is a problem. Actually, there are a couple of problems that must be addressed.
The first is the recognition that a great deal of the chaos and violence in the world today is directly connected with the imperial behavior of American policymakers who are engaging in aggressive war-mongering abroad while creating a national security state at home.
Terrorism is not the result of people resenting our remaining freedoms here in America. It is the result of many decades of bloodshed and brutal foreign policy decisions that the American people had no say in whatsoever.
Prior to the events of 9/11, there were many analysts and commentators who warned that interventionism was the incubator of terrorism. But those warnings fell on deaf ears.
The risk of another terror attack on American soil is virtually guaranteed as long as our leaders maintain a worldwide empire that engages in aggressive military conquest in matters that have nothing to do with protecting our freedoms.
The second thing that must be addressed is the acknowledgement that turning our police into a domestic standing army by making them indistinguishable from our military is not making us safer or more free. It simply plays upon the public’s fears and sense of crisis.
Government’s proper role is to keep us free, not to keep us safely locked down like prisoners.
Jacob Hornberger said it best:
Better to live and die a free person, no matter how dangerous that might be, than to live life as a cowering, fearful serf, no matter how safe you might be.
It’s time to rediscover the power of saying “no” to those leaders who are pushing terror on us to dull our senses.
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Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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