Saturday, September 22, 2018

Hope v. Fear: Yes, You Can Get Blood From a Turnip

by Notumbus Bumbus (writer), Where I am right now., January 13, 2012

Irony isn't just for your shirts anymore, Bubba.

I have been thinking long and hard about something that’s been niggling at the back of my head for some time, namely, the real difference, if any, between so-called liberalism, and so-called conservatism. Leaving aside all the real extremists in both camps (if camps they can even be called, as they more often resemble Burning Man without the fire, just the ashes,) merely looking at the central premises of both modes of behaviour and thought, they can appear quite different, and yet, not so very different at all. But there is one way in which their differences manifest that I find most striking: their outlook on the future.

These respective outlooks can be boiled down to several word oppositions” yes v. no, hope v. fear, future v. past. And we see these oppositions in full relief during this current Roman Coliseum brawl called the 2012 elections. Most pointedly from the Republican camp, the rhetoric is almost predictable: we must return to, they seek to destroy, they want to force you, we need to return to what used to make America great. Each of these phrases are being used by all the candidates in the current field vying for their party’s nomination. They use it against the President and the Democrats, of course, but they do not hesitate to use it against one another, as well. Nothing quite as interesting as a train wreck, as the saying goes.

What I find especially ironic is the rhetoric of fear. The so-called Christian Conservative camp, who would apparently want all to join their march toward heaven, and try to sell it as the best thing since sliced bread, seem to be very bad at delivering a positive message about, well, anything. Instead, they cast nearly everything in terms of fear: they will do this to you, they would make you do x, they are going to bring America down – so elect us, and then we will stop them. Yet I never hear what “they”, meaning those self-same “Christians,” would actually do positively for the Nation. And here is the irony: the religions espousing Jesus were originally predicated on hope.

It almost seems criminal to have to point out that fear and hope also differ in another way: hope embraces the future, whereas fear scurries to the past, and most often, toward a past that never even existed. Except, perhaps, in the minds of the looneies on both far ends of the baguette, so to speak. Because the extremes on the left are also addicted to the fear factor. In fact, if the far right and the far left just move a little more in their respective end-of-the-world-fantasies directions, they may be quite discomfitted to find themselves sitting astride the same of steed of one of the Four Horsemen. Side-saddle, most likely.

Not clear enough? OK, let’s go down that road, then. The RR, or religious right, use the language of fear to try and convince the other people of this country that That Guy in the White House, who uses the language of hope, is really the Boogie-man, the Cloven-hoofed One. While That Guy in the White House keeps asking the Republicans for a plan that actually includes all Americans, and not merely the 1% who pad the pockets of the politician. So, who is more aligned with the original message of the one called Jesus? You remember: the guy who chased out the money-changes? The one who interceded on behalf of the lepers, the prostitutes, the poor?

Somewhere along the way, the fear has become a sort of feedback loop for the people on the Right. They have spent so much time screaming about how everyone else needs to be fearful that it has eroded the fundamental underpinings of their so-called faith. A word, I might add, that is predicated on hope. They sort of go together, you see. Whereas fear goes with neither. It merely goes to belaboring a point. And not a very viable point, at that. Will it get some votes? Sure – this is, after all, America, land of the fear, home of the crave. We have been hammered by the Corporate branch of the RR to buy, buy, buy for so long that too many Americans will respond better than Pavlov could have ever imagined. Negative conditioning, despite so many newer understandings of the human mind, still works like a charm.

About the Writer

Notumbus Bumbus is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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3 comments on Hope v. Fear: Yes, You Can Get Blood From a Turnip

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By Marcy Lynne on January 14, 2012 at 08:22 am

I hate even thinking about politics, but I read this with great interest because you are so right. I am a Christian - a follower of Christ, not of a church or doctrine or political party or conservative movement. I loved your reference to Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers, and being "The one who interceded on behalf of the lepers, the prostitutes, the poor" Amen to that. And when the RR is inclined to use the tactic of fear, maybe they should refresh their memories of these words from the apostle Paul: "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7)

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By Bessie Jewel on January 14, 2012 at 08:50 am

Nicely said. I always thought Jesus to be a bit of a socialist, but what do I know? Another interesting phenom. seems to be that the more "stuff" we have, the more fearful we become. That seems to apply not only on a societal level, but as individuals as well. I guess the more you have to lose, the more scared you get of losing it. Didn't the prophet Janis Joplin have something to say about "freedom" and "nothing left to lose"? (yes, yes, I know Kris Kristofferson actually wrote the words but delivery counts!)

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By Janey B on January 25, 2012 at 01:26 pm

Well said. Fear sits so depressingly well with the American character...we must fight for what we want, blah blah blah. When might be ever stop fighting, and just live? I cannot agree more with Bessie Jewel on the issue of the more we have the more we fear; the real road to security lies not in individual abundance so much as in a society that cares for its members - all of them. So that one cannot be wiped out by an illness, or by Wall Street manipulating the real estate market to the benefit of a select few while letting the rest of us "eat cake."

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