12 October 2006

Pornography of Fear Sullies the National Conversation

Fear, like sex, hits a primal chord that is hard to ignore. Because sex plays the audience in ways that aren't particularly rational, society has chosen to regulate access to pornography. It's about time that we did the same thing with fear in politics.

One of the big, big problems with the way that the pornography of fear has hijacked the national political conversation is that what a person or group focuses on is what they create. Death is inevitable and whether someone who worries every day about death actually lives longer than the person who spends little time worried about it is not the point. The point is to live until you die and fearing death the whole time you live is not much of a life, in the same way that a policy focused by fear isn't much of a policy.

Tell someone not to think of elephants and what will they immediately think of? Elephants. We worry about terrorists in Iraq killing Americans and what do we now have? Terrorists in Iraq killing Americans.

Politics instead needs a focus on what we want to create - not what we fear. Until the American public and their politicians end their addiction to the pornography of fear, we're unlikely to get that. Never has a generation been faced with such extraordinary possibilities and never has its media been so focused on rubbish. It's time to realize that what we focus on is what we gravitate towards.

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