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October 30, 2008

JPR Fearless Life - How free people can resist the terrorist's manipulative campaign of fear

Fearless Life

My name is Alon Stivi, I have dedicated my life to protecting others and saving lives through education. You are listening to Fearless Life on Jerusalem Pulse radio.

Following the September11th, terrorist attacks and the media pre-occupation with the war in Iraq, most people, in their attempt to cope with troubling events, are overexposing themselves to threatening information. Unregulated consumption of fearful imagery weakens our individual resolve and undermines our collective defenses, playing right into the hands of those who wish to harm us.

The principle weapon of terrorists is not bombs, guns, or chemicals, it is fear itself. The main target of terrorists is not airports, ports or buildings: It is our minds. The minds of Westerns are perceived as a “soft” target susceptible to fear for several reasons. The first is our common value system based on the premise that the preservation of life is the highest virtue. The systematic cultivation of a “culture of death “has proven very effective against Westerners belonging to the “culture of life”. Additionally, people who live in the relative safety of modern life are more susceptible to the influence of extreme violence. Lastly, the weapon of fear, just like any other weapon, must have an effective delivery system. Democratic societies provide such primary vehicle in the form of mass media.

In contrast to traditional security thinking, which is primarily focused on reinforcing the physical characteristics of possible targets, progressive terrorism counter measures should also include reinforcing “psychological targets” of terror. Mental resilience, like physical fitness, is a perishable skill that requires regular practice to maintain. Knowing how to cope with the fear of fear is an essential part of learning how to live with terrorism realities. Since 9/11 the words terrorism, hijacking, homicide bombers, war, and weapons of mass destruction have become household names. We are swamped on a daily basis with contradictory opinions, advice, and predictions in the name of free speech. Alarmism has become the leading tone and individuals reading, listening or watching and attempting to make sense of this influx of information are often time overwhelmed.

Understanding the phenomenon of fear and how it works is essential to our survival. Fear principally steams from the unknown. It is an anticipatory emotion based on individual imagination of future adverse outcomes and the collective perception of current circumstances (“reality”). In other words, the motion of fear is, by definition, a mind game – imagination that breeds on imagination. It is the threat of harm and danger running rampant in our imaginative minds. There are two basic types of fear: Acute Fear and Ambient Fear. We are all familiar with Acute Fear; the psycho-physiological tension driven by the adrenaline rush that makes us short of breath and intentionally fixated when we are faced with a sudden unexpected change in perceived safety. There is also Ambient Fear, the collective diffusion of fear. A cognitive contamination method often used by brutal individuals like Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, Stalin, Mussolini and Hitler to control the masses.

If not regulated, fear becomes panic, which can paralyze mind, body and society. Societal effects could include among others: Travel Phobia resulting in severe impairment of the tourism and transportation industries with direct impact on free trade and the global economy, and Xenophobia resulting in the proliferation of profiling-based threat identification systems with unavoidable impact on privacy. Recent government studies elude to the possibility that Americans' fear of terrorism could create a mass outbreak of psychosomatic illness -- even in the absence of any real attack -- --creating a fake epidemic that could overwhelm hospitals attempting to treat real victims.

The adaptation of fear as a weapon is much more sophisticated then just making us fearful for our lives. It is mostly designed to make us fearful of one another.

We must not forget that the ultimate goal of every terrorist leader is to have its victims adopt its “point of view” and accept the terrorist’s cause as “legitimate”. To achieve this, terrorists aim to simultaneously spread fear, and undermine people’s confidence in their government’s ability to resolve these fears.

To create this level of mistrust, terrorists follow the doctrine used by Nazi Germany and refined by the Soviets propaganda machine to carry out a global anti Westerner campaign. Using politically motivated liberal journalists and web masters, terrorists attempt to spread a message of fear of Westerns.

One of the main “rumor” that have been systematically spread and became widely accepted by peoples in the Middle East, Far East, Europe and even by some Americans, is the notion that Americans, British and their allies are viewed by the rest of the world as “bullies” and that the global war on terror is an imperialistic ambition. This is a calculated attempt to manipulating public opinion and conveys the false perception that the “people of the world” needs to fear America and its allies, as much, if not more than the radical terrorists themselves.

Consequently, the proliferation of “The Fear of America” may have as much of an impact on the outcome of the war on terror and our personal safety as the fear of terrorism itself. This is evident, for example, in some of the rhetoric used during the current presidential election race by those who are trying to persuade others that America need to “improve its image” in the eyes of the world. In other words, to “do the right thing”; Americans and Westerners need to doubt themselves and reevaluate their ways. Furthermore, according to some, we must apologize for the way we are and adopt the values and plans of the rest of the world.

This, in an essence, is an overt call to forsake what Democracy is all about and forgo and forget the sacrifices of millions of brave free men and women, mostly Americans, who gave their life so the “rest of the world” can even exist today. In the same way that members of the French underground in WW2, did not asked, nor hoped or wanted that Americans consider adopting Hitler’s POV, the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran DO NOT hope that we adopt Islamization or talk to dictators who support terrorism.

It is important to remember that there are two basic ways to cope with the perception of risks and fear –knowledge and faith. We must both, equip ourselves with information about what to do when and if faced with a threat, AND have the spiritual fortitude and righteousness to believe that we will overcome unforeseeable circumstances.

In summary, it does not matter what race, religion, or gender you are or what is your political affiliation. The fact of the matter is that all of us have ONE main common enemy – fear it. Winning the fight against fear and its perpetrators depends upon our personal mental resilience as much as on our collective resolve. To win we must have faith in ourselves and we must stay inform by supporting the flow of hype-free factual information like the one presented on JPR.

Never forget that fear is a mind game. Enjoying being scarred and seeing horror movies is a personal choice. But being systematically coerce to believe that we must give in to manipulative ideologies and being intimidated to change our course in history is another matter altogether.

We must not forget that a peaceful world is a FREE world. We must maintain our commitment to continue to help each other fight oppression and fear while educating the next generations to LOVE LIFE.

This is as essential to world peace and the future of our children as the movement of troops and tanks.

Remember what Hillel use to say: “ve haikarlo lefached klal”

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