Way of Life?

Way of Life?

Photographed in Brooklyn, New York.

I was watching Fox News the other day, and one of the anchors put up a tweet that read: "When someone is trying to destroy you or your way of life, you need to do what you can to stop them". On its face, that sounds reasonable. The right of self-defense is widely regarded as an inalienable natural right. On the other hand, the second part of the statement, defending your "way of life", begs a closer look. That can only be credible if your "way of life" does not intrude on the rights of others. And therein lies the source of most conflict.

There is also the issue of "perception of threat". Is someone actually trying to destroy your "way of life" or is it merely fear? In the 1950s, Elvis Presley was perceived as a threat, ruining nation's youth, by many conservatives and religious leaders. J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the FBI, kept a file on him and claimed that Elvis was a "definite danger to the security of the United States, because he had driven girls and boys mad". Can you imagine an America without Elvis?

Fear appeal, or more appropriately, appeal to fear works. Marketers know it, propagandists know it and politicians know it. By arising fear through carefully crafted messages which present an implied or trivial threat, perception and behavior is modified and support for a certain point of view or cause is secured. Needless to say, not all perceived threats are false. But, most are. What's interesting is that we are more conservative than we tend to think we are.

More explicitly, what most threatens our "way of life" is ourselves. Our own ignorance and fears. Our disregard for what's truly going on in our own communities and in the greater world. Our hypocrisies and biases. Our silence and lack of courage in the face of injustices we encounter. Our inability or unwillingness to think critically. Our failure to recognize the widespread omissions, distractions, lies and deceptions in modern media. Our unwavering faith in those who we think actually represent us. For the most part, that which most threatens us and our "way of life" is not external; It is within.

Father, Daughter
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