Since the events of 9/11, we in the Western World have finally gotten ourselves in tune with the most basic and vital of human instincts: fear. From the beginning of time, as we cocooned ourselves in our cave dwellings (early precursor of the gated community), and trembled at the prospect of roving sabre toothed tigers, passing storms, and even clouds crossing the face of the moon, fear has been our constant companion.
It has been fear of one kind and another that has been responsible for all of the wars, laws and technological developments that have shaped and guided our great civilizations. If it weren’t for fear of barbarian invaders, we wouldn’t even have nations to begin with. If not for fear of shuffling off this mortal coil, there would be no organized religions. Fear of growing old has fuelled any number of delightful and innovative multi billion dollar industries. Fear of being left behind economically has allowed our cherished multinational corporations to become the most powerful and dominant political forces on the planet, unencumbered by parochial, obsolete laws that had once protected the environment and so-called human rights.
Sure, there are naysayers who would point to some of the less savoury aspects of our Western history – witch burnings, wars, genocides – and say that perhaps fear is something negative, something that we need to evolve out of if we are going to survive as a species. It is exactly this sort of namby-pambyish attitude that was directly responsible for the tragic events of 9/11. Fear, and fear alone, could have prevented those despicable acts. Furthermore, I denounce anybody who says otherwise as an intellectual terrorist.
Of course, there is no end of things to be afraid of: contaminated water, child abductions, children, AIDS, people with AIDS, unpleasant odours, poor people, drug addicts, teenagers, greasy build-up, bad breath, home invasions, poetry, foreigners, gays, artists, countertop bacteria, organ thieves, unfashionable clothes, brown lawns, shark attacks, dandruff, socialists. Fortunately, there are dedicated corporate scientists working around the clock on solutions – everything from pesticides to space age polymers to missile defense – that will eventually eliminate each and every one of these potential threats.
In the meantime, though, it is up to each of us to do our part. If there has been one positive thing that has come out of the terrible events of that September day, it has been the fact that we are now able to give one, all-encompassing label to the seemingly endless sources of our fear. Finally, we have recognized that all fear is caused by one or more forms of terrorism. It is up to us, then, as concerned citizens, to identify and help root out the terrorists that lurk all around us, the evil-doers who are attempting to undermine our great civilization and way of life.
I, for one, have put considerable thought and effort into this, and have managed to classify a wide array of terrorists within my own community. For example, aside from the aforementioned intellectual terrorist, there is the graffiti terrorist who defaces public property, the dog-owner terrorist who lets his mini Dutch shit all over my lawn, and the squeegee terrorist who puts her filthy paws all over my S.U.V. and then expects me to pay for it. Most insidious of all, there is the rude neighbour terrorist, who borrows my hedge trimmer and doesn’t return it. Even my own wife and children have been known to commit numerous acts of household terrorism, and don’t think that I wouldn’t denounce them before the appropriate tribunal when the day comes!
I propose that we need an international day of recognition, a day to honour this essential force that is driving the destiny of our species. I propose that we institute, perhaps in place of the old, outdated Earth Day, a new International Fear Day. I see this as a day that we can all spend some quality time with our loved ones (after work, of course), perhaps hunkered down in our basements or our bomb shelters, watching CNN and reflecting on all the little things that we are terrified of. I even modestly propose a new motto – one that can be adopted and proudly proclaimed by every twitchy individual and every aggressively uneasy country on earth: Be Afraid. Be very, very afraid. Say it loud, say it proud.