What are the things we owe each other? Eula Biss says that one of the things we owe to other people – those we love and those who are strangers – is not to be afraid of them.
Fear, she says, is a deceptively destructive emotion that disables not only the person feeling it, but inflicts damage on those who are feared. In his book, The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things, Barry Glassner points out the contradiction in American culture (I suspect this is broader than an American characteristic) where society tends to nurture fears of those who are the most vulnerable.
One of his examples is African-American men, who are an object of fear in (North?) American society, and who are also some of the most politically, socially and culturally vulnerable. You can identify for yourself other vulnerable groups, fear of whom society nurtures.
Sometimes the stories we tell ourselves about whom we are to fear are earned. More often, they are either stories told to us by the culture, or stories we create for other reasons that do not reflect real danger.
In these cases, we can choose to tell ourselves and others different stories that don’t project our fear where it doesn’t belong.
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