The human species could not have survived for long without the experience of fear. The ability to identify certain events and situations as dangerous and respond appropriately is essential for our existence. But these responses are meant to be rare and short-lived. If we cannot switch off this built-in alarm system of ours, it will quickly exhaust us, even turn against us.
Donald Trump's apocalyptic acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland was easily the scariest political event I've ever witnessed outside of 1930s newsreels. As CNN's Anderson Cooper summed up: "He painted a dark and frightening picture of America, he talked about people being attacked by criminals, attacked by terrorists, betrayed by their leaders, the game is fixed. And he said he can be their voice." The thing about this tactic -- a far cry from conservative saint Ronald Reagan's inspirational "shining city on a hill" much less Obama's hope and change optimism -- is that it captures (and, yes, fuels) the zeitgeist of white America.
After a lot of self-work and love, I dropped the crap and chose to love myself, every wrinkle, every imperfection inside and out. This form of self-love is what we could be spreading, as opposed to fear of aging and the fear of ending up alone. We were born alone, and we will die alone, whether or not you have a husband and kids, this is true for all of us.
I felt fortunate to witness this incredibly awkward moment was because it illustrated to me an important lesson both in human frailty and in human resilience. It was one of the worst possible things that could go wrong -- followed by a surprising and excellent recovery which I saw as tremendously reassuring.
About one in five people have some fear of going to the dentist, often stemming from a traumatic experience. Even general life anxiety can manifest into fear of the dental chair. Many of these people cancel appointments or avoid dental visits altogether. And for those who do come in, it's often when a dental issue is far more advanced and harder to treat.
Everybody has fear. My particular brand of fear usually involves worrying about what people will think of me. Writing publicly about that fear now only punctuates it further. I care way too much about what people think of me and how I'm perceived. I like to say that I'm a recovering approval-seeker, but it's a long road, baby.
The Harper government's attempt to frighten voters should be recognized for what it is -- baseless propaganda designed to woo votes in the midst of an election. While there will undoubtedly be some undesirables in the refugee crowd, our immigration processes are perfectly capable of flagging and filtering out those risks. Canadian lives will not be threatened if we let in Syrian refugees. The irony, however, is that the lives of Canadians and our European friends may well be threatened if we do not. The tide of undocumented refugees will continue to flow into Europe if we fail to provide an alternative exit to those refugees still struggling to survive in camps in Turkey and elsewhere in the Middle East.