December 8th, 2006.

Pulling the wrong strings.

One of the things I don’t like about the world we live in today is the way that governments and organizations get us to fall in line with their wishes by exploiting fear of something, be that terrorists, pedophiles, identity thieves, or whatever.

Fear is a base instinct of course, so it’s an easy screw to turn. Using reasoned arguments backed up with facts and figures is all well and good, but not everyone is patient or clever enough to understand such an approach. However, every one of us understands fear no matter who we are. So when a government wants to drop bombs in some far off land that most people can’t point to on a map, they tell us they’re doing so to protect us because that far off country poses a threat we should fear.

The current trend of making us fearful of the terrorist has proved sensationally successful for governments around the world. Sweeping law changes have swept away many rights and liberties while those who might otherwise oppose such laws are busy waving their flags and ‘uniting’ against the unseen enemy.

So I find myself feeling somewhat disappointed that in the UK, the environmental group, Greenpeace has stooped to the same level as the government in choosing to create an ad that pulls at those ‘fear the terrorist’ strings. In their efforts to tell the British people that nuclear energy is not a great answer to the energy problem, Greenpeace elected not to use facts and figures to support their argument, but instead the chilling image of a passenger jet being flown into a nuclear power station (see below).

While I understand that fear is an effective way to motivate people to do something, I can’t help but feel disappointed at the lack of faith governments and organizations have in our collective abilities to understand something a little more in-depth than just basic fear.

It seems that while we in the west are cowering in fear from all number of threats, our neighbors in the far east and India are stepping out boldly to take up the challenge of pushing humanity forward.

When Henry Ford started mass producing cars another milestone had been passed in our evolution. I doubt the first thing on the minds of those who took delivery of an early Ford was how they might fit an immobilizer.

Few, if any, of humanities man's great achievements have been accomplished out of fear. Rather, those great steps forward were carved out of a desire to explore, to learn, and to understand. Do we now somehow lack the drive and vision that motivated and inspired our forefathers? Have we in the west become so comfortable that all we want to do these days is simply be nothing more than comfortable? If I fear anything, I fear that might just be the case.