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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Why People Become So Fearful of Government and Politicians

We all know someone who distrusts and is even fearful of the government and politicians. It seems no matter what facts are presented to them, they continue to hold these fears despite having good reasons for this fear. It is almost as if they want to be fearful because it provides them some form of comfort.

So why do people tend to be so fearful? Well, there are many variables that can cause this fear such as a lack of education, media, indoctrination of an ideology etc., but another explanation for this fear can be found in the history of human evolution.

Humans evolved to be fearful, for example - if 100,000 years ago a woman was picking berries and heard something in the bushes but didn't think anything of it - that thing she ignored might have been a bear and was likely to be killed (resulting in her genes not getting passed on).

If the same situation happened but this time she became fearful and ran home even though she didn't know what was in the bushes - then she was more likely to live long enough to pass on her genes. What she heard may have just been the wind, but in this situation being scared is better than not being scared - because in evolution it is better for a species to be safe than sorry, otherwise they are likely to go extinct. So those who are paranoid and easily scared are more likely to survive; hence why the world is full of individuals who are fearful of those different from themselves.

This doesn't mean we shouldn't be skeptical of government and politics, it is healthy to question and not blindly follow authority - but we must have a healthy balance.

So how do we find the right balance of being cautious but not too cautious? The key is educating ourselves on the things we don’t understand and admitting that our current understanding could be wrong. Having a better understanding of government and the views of those we feel disagree with us etc., will lessen our fears of the unknown and help us make better decisions going further. Not being educated on issues and simply relying on gut feelings to make decisions often makes the problem worse.

This video of Romney supporters being interviewed at a rally in Ohio is a great example of how ignorance enhances fear. My favorite is “he is a Muslim (President Obama) - his father was a Muslim, his father was an atheist, and his father was a communist." If you don’t understand what is wrong with this statement - please leave a comment below so someone can explain it.

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