Fear. It can control everything.
It keeps people from growing, from learning, from seeing things from other perspectives and it can keep politicians in power. We are a nation living in fear.
We are fearful of the unknown, of the known, of well most everything it seems, and this culture of fear is what President Donald Trump is counting on.
Abusive relationships don’t start out that way. In the beginning the abuser showers you with love, they make you feel like you are the most important person in their world.
But over time, with the manipulation of an expert con-artist, they begin to weave threads of falsehoods, doubts, uncertainties, fears. Those being abused want so badly to be all they want, so they bend, they comply, and they believe.
For the lucky ones, they eventually begin to recognize that they are dying living with this fear. They begin to recognize that their very being is washed away with self-doubt and anxiety and begin to recognize where they are at to grow.
Trump is the abusive husband. He is expertly manipulating the people of America to either buy into his fear of the “others” or he is causing you to fear what he will do next. This culture of fear is what he wants because history has shown that it works not only for re-election but to even gain support for unwanted wars.
In 2017 a research study from PRRI and The Atlantic showed that fear of societal change, not economic pressure, motivated votes for the president and you can be sure that his team hasn’t forgotten this.
According to this study fears about cultural displacement motivated the white working-class voter to support Trump.
“White working-class voters who say they often feel like a stranger in their own land and who believe the U.S. needs protecting against foreign influence were 3.5 times more likely to favor Trump than those who did not share these concerns.”
Nazi leader Herman Goering explains how people can be made fearful and to support a war they otherwise would oppose: “The people don’t want war, but they can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.”
Our brains are wired to focus on fear as a method of ensuring our survival. In order to ensure we aren’t just continually reacting to the next manufactured reason to feel fear we have to start practicing mindfulness. Being aware of how we are feeling as a reaction and making a change will help us navigate our way out of this abusive relationship.
Some Republicans are already in this place. They recognize that they deserve better, they deserve more, so they are voting for Joe Biden.
Those in the middle are doing the same thing, they recognize that they have to make a choice. They can’t just sit in the middle and hope for the best.
And Democrats are showing up. They are speaking up. And they are giving strength to those who have been worn down by abusive power.
As a nation we are at the point in this unhealthy relationship to make a decision.
We can continue to be abused, manipulated, and live in fear.
Or we can look inward, at what is making us afraid, and make the choice to leave.
Opinion contributor Aryanna Hunter, of Pittsburgh, is an Iraq War veteran, author, advocate, and founder of What a Veteran Looks Like and MeTooMST. Her work appears biweekly on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page.