Get out and vote, please. In just a week, we all have the opportunity to shape the future of our city, our state and our nation in one of the most rewarding gifts of our blessed freedom. Just as I urge you to vote, I also plead with you to cast your votes not out of fear but out of sound and thoughtful decisions.
Fear does crazy things to people. We, like all vertebrate animals, have a portion of our brains called the Amygdala. This portion of the brain kicks in instantaneously when we are faced with danger. The “fight or flight” reaction is at the core of all animal survival. Logical solutions to a crisis are set aside as we react first and foremost to protect ourselves from the dangers we face. We might have been told to take a deep breath or count to 10, but that often proves impossible to do when we are facing perceived danger.
We humans have a portion of our brains, the Prefrontal Cortex, that is the site of reason, judgment, compassion and empathy. It is this portion of the brain which separates and elevates us from other animals. Unfortunately, the cortex has to be shut down if the fear system is to work. When this occurs, our ability to think critically with justice and fairness become secondary.
The enemies of the world today know this. As horrifying as it was to watch planes crash into the twin towers on 9/11, the real ambush of our minds still lingers. Terrorism is the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims. While many Americans look vigilantly around the world for the terrorists they so fear, they seem incapable of seeing the terrorists at work right here at home using violence and intimidation in pursuit of political aims.
Fear mongering has become the norm. Turn on any news channel, watch political ads or listen to debates and you will find someone trying to manipulate the mind through fear. Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, today we are bombarded by political pundits using fear as a means to control minds while increasing their viewing share or readership. Even local politicians now spend most of their time bashing national leaders on both sides, far removed from their races, instead of focusing on the plans for a better community, county, state or country. The intent is clear. Constrict the mind. The new world order is “us vs. them.”
No one has taken a bigger beating in this process than the President of the United States, Barack Obama. If we listen only to what we are told, we have a President that been a complete failure to both the right and the left. It doesn’t matter that we have one of the most pragmatic Presidents in history, one that has put the good of all the people over those of a select few.
In the minds of many staring in fear through shutters in their locked and bolted homes, we have elected a black marauder hell-bent on forcing socialist government down our gutted throats and establishing Islam as our national religion. The reality is we have a President that, like it or not, has kept our nation steady when it could easily have slipped into a monstrous depression, saved jobs – especially in the auto industry, stimulated recovery, brought reasonable health care to so many in need, followed through on his pledge to get our troops out of Iraq and again brought respect for our nation around the world.
That is not to say President Obama has been successful on all fronts. Certainly, the President failed to properly communicate to our nation the importance of what has been done. The President has set his course to help make life better for more Americans even at the expense of his own political future.
The “us vs. them” thinking of our country today, and the fear that goes along with those thoughts, seem likely to spell doom for some of the most sensible thought we have had in this country in decades.
The Oval Office rug selected by President Obama bears the following quotes and all are good for us to remember as we head to voting booths in a week. They are –
- “The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself,” President Franklin D. Roosevelt
- “The Arc of the Moral Universe is Long, But it Bends Towards Justice,” Martin Luther King Jr.
- “Government of the People, By the People, For the People,” President Abraham Lincoln
- “No Problem of Human Destiny is Beyond Human Beings,” President John F. Kennedy
- “The Welfare of Each of Us is Dependent Fundamentally Upon the Welfare of All of Us,” President Theodore Roosevelt
That final quote from President Theodore Roosevelt is a firm reminder to free our minds of fear and to think critically and with reason when we cast our votes either way. Now is not the time to turn back the progress made simply because some live in fear. Now is the time to fulfill those quotes on the rug with the thought of the “welfare of all of us” ruling our minds.