Do you have an irrational fear, snakes? Spiders? Heights? Dogs or cats? Clowns? What about an unsubstantiated fear of violence, and I’m talking about a fear that makes most human interaction difficult? If you have an irrational fear, you’re fairly normal, as most people do, but sometimes fear manifests in ways that are anything but normal and has an adverse reaction and sway on everyday life. Look at those who suffer from agoraphobia, that is the fear of open spaces, often times this makes it nearly impossible for them to leave the house without anxiety and panic attacks. 

Fear plays a large role in how many people live and go about their day, it can be crippling, or it can manifest in ways that are a detriment to the rest of society. This is the basis for extremism and the extremist’s ideology!

  • My country!
  • My Race!
  • My Religion!
  • My National Identity!
  • My Rights!

Those things mentioned above are the things that extremists attack in their ideology; My country is being invaded, my race is being attacked, my religion is being victimized, my national identity and way of life are being eroded, my rights are under attack. The cornerstone of extremist ideology is perpetuating the belief that one or more of these things are under attack, coupled with an all-powerful and invisible enemy that only those extremists are privy to understanding. This is propagated through a narrative of victimhood and fear and often substantiated through revisionist history and or skewed statistical analysis. 

It is fear that is the driving force behind extremism, moreover, it is an irrational fear. The fear is preyed upon through extremist propaganda and other means of ideological reinforcement. This is how someone who says, “There are quite a few more Mexican people here in my town,” can easily be swayed to, “They are taking away our jobs, they are bringing gangs, they are criminals,” in a relatively short amount of time. It is a minor base fear, being turned into something it truly isn’t, through propaganda and ideological pushes. Soon enough that same person thinks, “It’s all a conspiracy of [insert random group of people] to erase white people, take over and weaken our country and see to it everything turns communist,” because of the propaganda they are fed, which then feeds their irrational fears. 

The more indoctrination and fear the individual is fed, the more extreme and irrational they will inevitably turn.  Extreme + Irrational is a deadly cocktail that breeds violence and lashing out at the individual’s perceived enemies. The fact is, people have acted out horrific atrocities over the last century, emboldened by irrational fear-based ideologies and propaganda and it is getting worse today. People are more divided, agendas are playing out before our eyes, and people seemingly once normal, are being radicalized and indoctrinated into conspiracy theories and hatred. White supremacist groups on the far-right have rebranded themselves as “Patriots,” while the far-left extremists push onward towards a more anarcho-communistic approach, neither thinking twice about the moderates on either side. 

This is all agenda-driven, fear-based ideology manipulating individuals into acting out minus empathy, minus the very things which make one a good human being. Instead of people shouting “my this, my that,” they should learn to say, “OUR humanity, our future, our hopes and dreams, our country.” This myopic view of “me, mine, my,” coupled with fear-based ideology, is responsible for more death and suffering than anything I’ve ever learned in history. If you say, “I stand for human rights, but…” you don’t stand for human rights, there is no caveat, there is no “but,” and this can be applied to any other ideological view you might hold. 

So what is your irrational fear? Does it affect your life? Does it have any sort of societal consequence?