What exactly is fear, and can one really put a single definition to it? The definition of fear is universal, varying from one culture to another. Simply put, fear is in the mind of the beholder, its an art in and of itself. In American culture, the media, which I often refer to as the Powerhouse of Mass Manipulation, likes to dictate what we should fear-I call this constructed fear.
These suggestions may range from fear of being overweight to your neighbor might be a terrorist. Speaking of terrorists, George Bush (haha get it?) used the fear of further terrorist attacks and weapons of mass destruction to fuel his tirade in Iraq. The American people blindly supported him and his war due to fear for their own safety. Only now, does the majority of Americans see through his smoke and mirrors when he comes out of Iraq empty handed. Perhaps Bush should have done his homework, he would have stumbled across the infamous Adolph who used the same trick, only he was successful.
Unbelievably, there is such a thing good fear, such as the fear of God. Those who fear God obey his rules, and obeying his rules means living a morally clean life. In other words, no harm comes from this fear. Another example is the fear of the authorities, those who fear the police dont commit crimes, thus keeping out of jail. There is also a level of respect that comes with fearing God and the Police; when people rebel against these forces it not only shows disrespect but the fact that they do not fear someone higher then themselves.
Fear can also be contagious. Take for example this passage from Grendel Grendel begins to shriek in pain and fear; the sound terrifies all who hear it. Grendel is the one who initially feels the fear, but his reaction caused those around him to be terrified, thus inflicting indirect fear.
In England, 1485 a plague called the Sweat swept the land claiming thousands of lives, some that could have been spared. This unique sickness killed quickly, it had the characteristics of a severe fever. It was said that to avoid becoming sick, one should remain calm and keep from over perspiring. Now, this sounds simple, but many who have heard of this sickness began to panic, only thinking they were sick when they were fine. Ultimately, they stressed themselves out with the fear of dying and ended up dead. Theres nothing worse than death by irony.
Fear is an illness that has sickened humanity from the beginning of time. Until society can learn to be more tolerant of things that were unfamiliar with, such as other cultures, constructed fear may remain with us for some time. Initially, fear was meant to be a tool used to maintain order, and keep us safe. Used correctly, we can live orderly, however, abused and it can be more destructive than any weapon of mass destruction.