The news is all about fear. Fear sells. People keep coming back for more because their fear builds until it warps their decision-making process. The various news channels cannot sell soap unless they put you in a fearful state of mind. One of the reasons I do not watch the news on television—ever—is that I have no wish to be manipulated.
I am going to ask myself several questions just to give you my take on several issues in the news:
- Am I afraid of contracting ebola? Not at all. The only thing I might do if I have to fly somewhere while this outbreak lasts is to wear gloves and a surgical face mask during the duration of the flight.
- Do I think that ISIS (or ISIL or whatever) will try something in our country? Probably. We are trying to bomb them to pieces and that probably doesn’t sit too well with them, so I expect they’ll try something along the lines of our own domestic terrorists with bombs or other devices. Am I afraid of them? Not particularly. I think they’re enjoying a brief ascendancy in Syria and Iraq before even the Sunnis try to shut them down.
- Are My Children Going to Be Shot Dead by Crazed Gunmen? As I don’t have any children, the fear is somewhat remote for me. But are your children going to be shot dead by crazed gunmen? That is a distinct possibility, as we are doing nothing to keep guns out of the hands of homicidal idiots.
- Are Weird Storms Going to Level Our Cities and Towns? Oh, you can bet on it. Curiously, most of these storms occur in areas where people disbelieve that we can affect climate change. “Nice, nice, very nice, so many people in the same device.” (Read Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle to understand the quote.)
At least once a year, I quote the Bene Gesserit litany from Frank Herbert‘s Dune on the subject of fear:
I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.
So before you switch on Faux News, you might want to think twice. Don’t believe what various pundits and experts try to tell you. Occasionally they tell the truth, but only on the sixth Friday of every month. Even the newspaper can discombobulate you. Be skeptical. Be very skeptical. People make lots of money by trying to lie to you. Don’t let them get away with it.
Practice living fearlessly. I went to Peru on my lonesome and spent three weeks traveling among people who did not speak the same language as me or think the way I think. It’s good practice, actually.