What shall we fear next?

I wake up to 2013 and find out that two hours after the “fiscal cliff” deadline, the Senate has worked out a deal. The House, still has to approve it, but Congress knows that their jobs would get infinitely more difficult if our government went into default.

And in case you weren’t looking, on Friday, it was announced that they extended the F-35 program and had no problems spending an additional $3.68 billion on a plane (actually 31 additional ones) that has no purpose except to keep the macho fighter pilot legacy alive for another 30 years. Our Congressman, Mike Turner, also was proud to announce that he had managed to save jobs in Lima working on a tank that the Army said it didn’t need.

Through the years since we battled the greatest evil ever (Hitler and the axis of evil) we’ve lived in a perpetual fear cycle. First it was our former allies, the Russians with their bombs, then just communists in general, and until Osama Bin Laden ascended the throne of scorn, we had struggled to be distracted with all kinds of other fears as our sense of safety has slowly eroded away. There was energy security, with the gas lines in the early seventies, AIDS stepped up to turn up a moralistic engine against gay marriage, and NAFTA first had us worried about jobs to Mexico, which wasn’t but a few drops over the dam compared to what China and India would do to our working-class jobs.

Wars are won in inches, not by miles, and slowly, fear has become the ultimate tool to create change in our country. We get upset and argue after horrible events like the Newtown Children’s Massacre, but the daily death toll, inch by inch, keeps piling on victims. We’ve put more people in prison for petty crimes linked to our “War on Drugs” while we’ve carried out a systematic war on the middle class that has devastated our country’s economy as banks behaving badly were bailed out, while home owners were thrown out of their homes.

Government grew a whole new Goliath to protect us from terrorists with the Department of Homeland Security, while we barely lifted a finger to provide a department of hometown and homeowners security. Wall Street Bankers are still buying little weekend getaway cottages, for $32 million, because their Manhattan apartment and Long Island mansion just aren’t enough.

We’ve seen the results of “Citizens United” as the battles for votes were driven by dollars, big data and gerrymandering to further separate the “representatives” from the “represented.” As power has slowly been siphoned off from the masses, we sit here this New Year’s day joyful that the rich will now pay a paltry 4.9% more in income tax and that milk won’t go to $7 a gallon.

It’s all smoke and mirrors, driven by the giant fear machine, devised to keep us all from the realization that in the end, the forces of unbridled population growth, the dependence on fossil fuels that are destroying our environment and unregulated market forces will never result in a sustainable equilibrium of peace, health and welfare for all. Those same seven deadly sins that we were warned of long ago will win, because fear also stops us from speaking out, acting up and changing our global priorities for the good of the entire human race.

To quote Marvin Gaye, “war is not the answer.”  It never has been. We can’t wage war on drugs, poverty, or each other and hope for fear to leave us. If we had spent the trillions we wasted on Iraq and Afghanistan on sustainable energy, food and educational and health care equality globally, we’d be an entirely different world. One where mothers wouldn’t fear losing their children to disease, famine or war as they lay their children down to sleep. A world where the only insatiable hunger is for knowledge instead of sustenance.

A friend who reads voraciously said to me yesterday that she no longer reads newspapers because she doesn’t want to be depressed. Fear wins again.

Before it’s too late, I ask all of you to consider this as your resolution for 2013, the one greatest fear for most people is the fear of change. It’s the one fear that is almost universal to mankind. Fear of change is the only fear we need to go away to start making real choices about our future. The key is to stop thinking about change in terms of me, but to change our perspective to the scope of we. Once we think big picture first, maybe we can put fear in the rear view mirror.

Best wishes in 2013.

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