Fear is such a prominent part of our societal fabric. The fear of the unknown extends its tentacles to every part of our lives. From the fear of poverty – which President Franklin Roosevelt addressed when he uttered the words in the title of this post in 1933 – to the fear of the Russians dropping a nuclear bomb on us in the aftermath of World War II to the fear today that drives people to exhibit so much hate in the world today.
There has been a term in our vocabulary for many years: “fearmonger”. The term is best described as:
“One who spreads the ideology of fear through propaganda to fulfill a concealed agenda. Similar to a terrorist, but it fights with information and not direct violence. Politicians, media personas, and internet posters can all be fearmongers. “
The hate exhibited towards African Americans, Hispanics and Latinos, Asians and Gays in this country today, for centuries really, is just another example of the sad State of the Union. Those who don’t understand; who fear what they don’t know, lash out because of that fear. In this current climate of political posturing for the 2016 elections, there is quite a bit of “fearmongering” going on. The change in the media from the likes of Walter Cronkite to today’s editorializing of the news fuels the fear and provides talking points for many people to parrot on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
The things I have been reading about Caitlyn Jenner on the ESPY’s last night – and from the time Bruce finally made the decision to step out of the shadow of Bruce and become the person she always felt she should be – make me sick. There’s so much fear that fuels the hatred. And those who hide behind the words of their bibles or the parroted comments of political pundits just make things worse, because the hateful, spiteful and angry words being written fosters the appearance of a society that is intolerant and, saddest of all, not all that intelligent.
Caitlyn Jenner received the ESPY because a) Bruce Jenner is one of the best known Olympic athletes and b) because – whether you understand it or believe in it or not – coming to the point of acceptance of his true self as a woman takes a lot of courage. Yes, COURAGE. The comments being thrown out are: The soldiers giving their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, hell even back to World War I, in the name of security and freedom for our citizens is the “true courage”. I am not disputing their courage – I’m a military brat I totally understand that. But folks, THIS IS NOT A COMPETITION! And…the ESPY’s are not about soldiers, they are about sports figures of which Caitlyn Jenner, in the form of Bruce Jenner, excelled. The accomplishments of Bruce Jenner do not simply go away because Caitlyn has emerged.
So many have said she (Caitlyn) is “sick” or is trying to capitalize on celebrity. I will disagree with the sick, but agree about the celebrity but not for the same reasons. Celebrities, sports figures, are elevated on the platform and held to higher standards because they are looked up to; idolized. Caitlyn is availing herself of the platform to reach out and give courage to those who do not have the support of family and friends. In last night’s speech, she noted a trans teen in who was murdered in Alabama – Mercedes Williamson and one who took his life in Michigan – Sam Taub. Two names out of hundreds – probably even thousands – to perish because of a lack of support or understanding from family, friends, SOCIETY.
I continue to hear that Caitlyn’s change is a “choice”. This is the same, sorry, argument that is made about gays. I continue to point out that NO ONE would choose to put themselves into a position to be ridiculed and treated with so much disrespect just to be able to live their authentic life. Matthew Shepard certainly didn’t “choose” a life that would end up costing his life by being beaten so savagely that he was thought to be a scarecrow rather than a broken young man left to die on a fence in the dead of winter. NO ONE chooses this. The COURAGE comes from those who choose to live their authentic life and not hide as so many would rather have them do.
This all comes down to the two very important points Caitlyn Jenner made last night – which really could be used to describe any member of any group who are persecuted in the name of religion or fear:
“If you want to call me names, make jokes, doubt my intentions, go ahead, because the reality is, I can take it. But for the thousands of kids out there, coming to terms with being true to who they are, they shouldn’t have to take it.”
“It’s not just about me; it’s about all of us accepting one another. And while it may not always be easy to get past the things you always don’t understand, I want to prove that it is absolutely possible — if we only do it together.”