Originally published on LinkedIn in February 2018.
I’ve been thinking about the concept of fear, and how it can be a monster in our lives. How many of us enter life and encounter this monster but are never given a sword to defeat it? It becomes our personal Smaug, and we – the exiled dwarves.
The choices we do or do not take. Ruled by fear.
What we say or do not say – ruled by fear.
Mid-last year, I shut down my Instagram account, my Twitter account, and locked down most of my Facebook content. I didn’t know how it made me look.
And then the spiral began: what would future employers think if they saw it? Was I potentially shooting myself in the foot by not being digitally agnostic?
I spoke about this to a friend who works in government. And she told me about how horrible she felt during the same-sex marriage (SSM) plebiscite. She could not publically vocalise any support for SSM due to needing to avoid being seen as contradicting, as a public official, the government in power.
Privately, she could express her sympathies and allegiance and support for SSM with our bi, trans, intersex, lesbian, and gay friends. But not anywhere or in any capacity that could be reported by a newspaper or digital news service.
She could lose her job. Possibly.
Smaug, the hoary elder wyrm, loomed close by, his shadow ever present.
Fear. Fear of taking a stand. Of showing her support for a historic inevitability. Fear of taking a side.
Outside the public sector, this might perhaps be less of a concern. But we still need to talk about it.
The world is changed. Radicalisation, nationalistic sentiment, political polarisation, social divides – it is on the rise. Fear mongers thrive and profit, spreading messages of hate, misogyny, sexism, transphobia, homomisia, and racism.
And I wake up every morning knowing that I have a Cheeto as a president, a dithering would-be centrist as a prime minister, and a guy who loves riding horses and arresting opposition leaders as a president. (The joys of being a tri-national!)
Fear, and its Fenrir-like companion, hate, continue casting their shadows across the world. The world is changed. We cannot reasonably justify taking a stance of impartiality.
We cannot allow ourselves to become dominated and controlled by fear. What value and meaning can be found in life, after all, if it is a life ruled by fear?