This I Believe

Colleen - Rock Falls, Illinois
Entered on December 21, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: fear

This I believe. Fear is the catalyst behind the human experience. Families and governments are guilty of instilling this basic emotion to the fullest to maximize the need for power and control. I have believed from the youngest age fear influences the human spirit.

I grew up in a household with an unpredictable abusive alcoholic father. Although he was an important man in his profession and a loving religious father when sober, he used fear and intimidation to have his way. An internal conflict began early. I I was an obedient, shy and introverted child. I read. I read John Steinbeck and anything I could lay my hands on about man’s inhumanity to man. Crime and Punishment stirred my soul. I did my high school thesis on nuclear disarmament. My parents embraced other cultures, other races and were a Catholic and a Baptist under one roof. I had a goal to be an Russian interpreter at the United Nations. I would know first hand why I had to climb under a desk at the sound of an alarm. I never believed that people so far away were interested in harming me. The fear instilled by the government was the same fear instilled in me by my father. I became a mind of my own. I felt and thought that this world was dominated by the quest for greed and power. I have watched the politicians and church leaders and academia and business use the same tactics. The more I observed the more intimidation and cruelty I found. I watched as the opponents to the Vietnam War were called hippies beaten by the government and made criminals. I watched as the government burned women and children in the Branch Davidian complex for practicing their religion. Students shot at Kent State and Tiananmen Square voicing their opinion. America the land of the free, the reality far from the ideology. Intimidation, coercion and the instillation of fear is being used effectively to support the government in another endeavor. Torture, corruption, hunger, genocide today are household words America now has more people in prison than anywhere else in the world.

One is to fear going to prison and have the stigma perpetuated after being released. I have been in situations where the decisions I made were not popular but were honest and in defense of freedom and human rights. I have been beaten and arrested for asserting my rights. I have lost my health standing up for others who could not do it themselves. I believe I as one who can, should stand up for the oppressed regardless of the consequences. The fear of speaking out and coming out and reaching out and living life are immobilizing. Fear must be overcome and the punishment the government, another person, religion, or of academia, is no excuse for my not taking on the cause of the oppressed in human dignity and world peace. I believe in overcoming fear.