Fear; the silent weapon used to control you
By Lydia Limbe
When you stand in line to get into the supermarket and your temperature is being taken by the security guard, what feelings does this move invoke in you? Do you feel vulnerable? Do you feel helpless? Do you feel slightly angered at how much this infringes on your personal space? At that moment, do you feel fearful of the person that is beside you, of yourself, and of everything that is going on?
Covid-19 is unearthing how deeply steeped into fear we are.
And it starts early. You may have seen on social media the memes that depict African parents and the methods they used to discipline children. Whether they used the cane, or hurtled threats or guilt-tripped their children. It was all to instill fear, the resultant behavior of which was collapsed to mean respect.
This same aspect of fear was used in school. Many primary and secondary schools conducted test drills and gave exam pass marks that if one fell below would result into a punishment meant to scare and humiliate the student into acceptable performance. Unfortunately, this resulted in resentment of the teachers and of the school, and the motivation to perform was so that the student does not experience that demeaning treatment again. The intended goal of education got lost in the process.
It is in school where fear becomes deeply ingrained in our conscious and subconscious. Depending on how long you were in school, 8-4-4 ensures at least 16 years of your life learning the language of fear, knowing how to behave around the most feared person to the least feared person and to hide aspects of yourself that will not awaken their fury.
We therefore start to doubt ourselves, doubt our thoughts that question the status quo, and doubt our ability to create. Slowly, we begin to accept things as they are, begin to accept that the people in authority know what is best for us and about us. We accept what they propose for us to do, and become silent conspirators in this push and pull game of fear.
By the time we get into the workplace, we are so fearful of those in authority and we become a mere pathetic “yes” men/women. We accept abuse of power by our employers and superiors because of the fear of losing our jobs, of losing the peer respect because of being jobless and the general stigmatization of the society for an ‘unproductive’ individual.
As you stand in line with suspended breath, waiting on the hand held thermometer to finally calculate how much your temperature is, and what they will do to you when it suddenly reads suspiciously high? This is when you realize how much fear has been used as currency with you as the unsuspecting commodity being traded.
In those few seconds you realize that you have no way of defending yourself. It is and it has been the whole world against you. Because you were not aware of this fear game being played on you from the beginning. You just reacted to it and traded in it as it was dished.
As you step inside the supermarket, you have a fleeting moment of clarity: do I really matter? This creates an uncomfortable vacuum which is quickly filled with being busy filling your basket as you try to keep away from those shopping around you and to try and get home before the curfew.
Leaving you with no room to really engage with that clear thought: that you matter more than you have ever realized. Would you take a moment to trace some fears that you could be having?
Lydia Limbe is a Strategic Communications Professional. Emailfirstname.lastname@example.org