“Fear is the mind-killer” – Frank Herbert, Dune
People cannot think clearly when they are afraid. As numerous studies have shown , fear is the enemy of reason. It distorts emotions and perceptions, and often leads to poor decisions. For people who have suffered trauma, fear messages can sometimes trigger uncontrollable flight-or-fight responses with dangerous ramifications.
Yet over time, many interlocking aspects of our society have become increasingly sophisticated at communicating messages and information that produce fear responses. Advertising, political ads, news coverage and social media all send the constant message that people should be afraid—very afraid.
In addition, television and film are filled with extreme violence and millions of fictional deaths, far out of proportion to what happens in real life, as researchers have pointed out. And more recently, we have witnessed the massive militarization of local police departments with equipment, gear and attitudes that treat citizens as if they were terrorists, as recently evidenced by events in Ferguson, Missouri. Many militarized police raids have gone wrong and taken the lives of hundreds, while police violence against often unarmed people results in unnecessary deaths and injuries every day. All this, despite statistics indicating  that in most parts of the country, the crime rate is actually on the decline.
Fear is so pervasive that experts have made the case we live in a generalized “culture of fear,” also the name of a book by Barry Glassner which underscores the fact that we often fear the wrong things, and incredibly out of proportion to reality. Statistics show you have a much higher chance  of being killed by lightning than by a terrorist.
New Series Commitment by AlterNet