This has been a week of Violence. Two black men were senselessly murdered by police—one in Minnesota and one in Louisiana. Their deaths were recorded by cameras. Although it is just Friday we got up today to read of 5 policemen slaughtered by a man with a high powered rifle who ambushed them in downtown Dallas, Texas while they were guarding peaceful protesters of the first two killings. In attempt to show the demonstrators they were there to protect and not harm they did not wear their body armor. Police were the targets—-seven were wounded in addition to the five killed.
At the press conference this a.m. both the mayor of Dallas and the Chief of Police said the words we have heard many times before—-“this has got to stop” But it doesn’t stop and we need to make some fundamental changes in our culture before it will stop in my opinion. We must look at the cause of this mindless slaughter and it goes even deeper than racism.
The basic cause is FEAR. For the last two decades the American people have been exposed to the politics of fear. Politicians trying to gain political advantage; the so-called “religious right” ; radio commentators such as Glen Beck; and Fox News, to name a few of the many, have all contributed to this culture of fear. Added to this list is the influence of the social media as one of the main avenues of information—often false—and you have this toxic culture we live in today. It is a culture of fear!
The culmination of this fear culture we have been building and the major example of a person using this culture of fear to build political power is Donald Trump. He has built his presidential campaign on fear. For example: Mexican illegal aliens are invading our country and taking American jobs—so build a wall to keep them out and deport all illegals. Or—do not allow Muslims who are seeking refuge in our country to enter because some of them might be terrorists. His rhetoric in campaign speeches is violent and is matched by violent supporters in the streets and at his rallies.
Franklin D Roosevelt in his first inaugural speech to the nation when our country was in the deepest part of the Great Depression spoke words that are as relevant to our country today as they were to his listeners that were also gripped by fear: “Let me assert my firm belief,” he said, “that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—-nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to retreat or advance….”
Anyone who studies human behavior will tell you that fear causes violence. It is a kind of paranoia that causes us to want to strike first before we are hurt. And it is part of a cycle—-fear always eventually leads to violence and then the violence causes even more fear. As the violence accelerates so does the fear and vice versa.
America is near the breaking point as it was when FDR spoke. Just as major and revolutionary changes were made by FDR and the New Deal, so do some major and revolutionary changes need to be made now. It cannot continue to be” business as usual”. We need new leadership and fresh ideas if we are to survive and not implode from within.
That is why this coming election selecting our leaders is so crucial! If we choose those to lead us that do so by fear, this may be our last election!