Imagine randomly posing a question to one hundred strangers. A very simple yet broad question. What has happened to the United States? What kind of answers would you get?
I can project one outcome. The vast majority of the people you poll will not see the United States as a kinder, gentler place. That includes those "pollyanna" types who consistently try to put a good spin on everything. I have a few of those types in my life and I can tell you that even they- have taken notice of the moral and social decay of the United States. I spoke with one yesterday. I think we can safely assume that most people are in agreement. The United States has been in a downward spiral for some time. I think most people would view that as a fact rather than an opinion. I think disagreement will only occur when we try to pinpoint the precise time when our slide started. More disagreement may occur when we try to determine just how bad of shape we are in as a country.
There are nine different types of individual intelligence. If you would like to see how you score I have embedded a link here: http://literacyworks.org/mi/assessment/findyourstrengths.html I consistently score high in intrapersonal, interpersonal, and linguistic intelligences. Throw any of those other six types of intelligence at me and I become a drooling idiot. I enjoy people. In fifty years of living I can say that I have grown to love and enjoy people far more than I did even 20 years ago. I understand what motivates people and I am well aware of what motivates me. We share a common thread.
In this piece of the essay, I am going to identify what I believe to be the underlying cause of our problems. In order to solve a problem, an enormous swarming problem such as this- very often you must break it down to it's smallest parts. The smallest part here is one human being. An even smaller part might be- why does any given human being behave the way that they do?
I am going to go out on a limb here.
There is one common denominator that threads itself through every facet of our individual lives. It is so sneaky that most people are not even aware of it's existence. It is the opposite of love. It is fear. Fear is the basis for ALL negative human emotion. I challenge any one reading this to prove that statement wrong. Fear is such a strong human motivator that I believe almost all human conduct is fear based and thus driven. I believe fear is the most underestimated and denied emotion on the planet. And I will add, fear driven behavior is largely unconscious behavior. That as it turns out- is very good news.
Human beings are social creatures. We fear isolation. In fact, there are studies that have shown that isolation drives people insane and suicidal. Therefore isolation is greatly feared by us. Almost all advertising and marketing targets and exploits that human fear. You want to be cool, hip? You gotta have these jeans or this Iphone. You want to be like us, the cool people, you gotta have this junk. This skinny body. This foreign car. This hip President. In fact, that targeted marketing has become so effective in exploiting fear- that the people who buy into that sales pitch very often condemn others who haven't. I didn't buy into the Obama pitch. Some folks castigated me for it.
We fear everything. We fear not having enough money, we fear failing health and dying, we fear that there is no God or afterlife. We fear the police, we fear failure and sometimes success, we fear China, we fear that the people running this place don't have a fucking clue what they are doing. We fear signing our real name onto a blog or a comment section. We fear sticking our neck out and being embarrassed. We fear forgetting where we parked our car and we fear getting ripped off. We fear other religions, politics, other races of people, we fear any competition to life as we have decided it should be. We fear emotional and physical pain. We fear falling down and not getting up. We fear crime. We fear our significant others lying, cheating. We fear rejection, isolation. We fear even making eye contact with a stranger or saying "hello." Without a doubt, human beings are the most fearful creature on this planet. We are consumed by fear. And there are gobs of people more than willing to exploit your fears for personal gain. In fact- they are quite adept at it. Yes Virginia it's true...if they can make you even more fearful, worried, or self conscious than you already are...they can sell you even more stuff. And they will leave you fearful for the next sales pitch. They want no rehab efforts.
The next time you watch TV, do this. Ask yourself what fear each commercial is trying to exploit. You'll get sick of it after a while. It just gets pathetically obvious.
Our country is a neurotic and fear driven mess. That's the bad news. Here's the good news. All of that dysfunctional and fear driven behavior is largely unconscious. We don't even stop to consider it any longer...nor do we consider that others are just as fearful and nuts as we are.
It is curable.
That unconscious behavior is actually very good news. If we as individuals and collectively as a society can get conscious and aware of all of this fear driven insanity- we have a real shot at serious improvement. Improvement cannot come until we are aware and fully recognize the vast damage that fear has done to our society. I see that as the DNA basis of our national problem. What occurs next happens when essentially like minded and fear driven individuals break off and form like minded and collective fear driven groups. Where do we see that most evident? Well, wouldn't you know it? It's those two things that we hate the most, politics and religion. We seek the safety of our herd. It's that fear of isolation.
Fear. It is the essential DNA building block of dysfunction. It is clearly evident in our society and it is not getting better. In part two, I'd like to discuss how various individuals and factions manipulate and control others through the use of fear and how that has contributed to our nations decline.