> Essay: Killing Fear

- Essays on Lingua Lincoln -

Ballot with eraser removing third-party choices as pencil approaches checkbox.

- Killing Fear -

by Lincoln Sayger

549 wds.
First published on May 05, 2016

This article was produced through the support of my Patreon patrons.

A common refrain, these days, during election years is, "If you don't vote for my favorite candidate, you're throwing your vote away. Opposition candidate is going to win, and they'll destroy the nation, and it'll be your fault for not supporting my favorite candidate."

The people who say this probably genuinely think they're defending the nation or convincing people to vote for their favorite candidate, but they're actually destroying the system. They're actually making it more likely that opposition candidate they fear will win. Because they're not encouraging people to vote for their candidate; they're discouraging people from being involved in the process at all, thus increasing the share in the power of every die-hard who favors the other side.

Fear has an insidious effect. It saps our hope. It makes us wonder if our efforts have any effect. It discourages us from fighting for good and encourages us to give in to the approach and onslaught of evil. When someone tells us we have no voice unless we pick someone we don't believe in, we don't decide that person is a good choice. We actually hear that we don't have a voice at all. And when we think we have no voice, we are much less likely to exercise our voice. We're less likely to speak out against injustice. We're less likely to vote for anyone.

This is why voter turnout is so low.

The real reason your choice is limited is that you, and many other people, believe this lie that your choice is limited. The more people refuse to believe this lie and exercise their wider choices, the more those choices will be likely to be chosen in the end. And in the mean time, the harder it will be for people to shut those choices out on the grounds that those choices have no traction, that "nobody wants them."

Elections are not horse races. There's no benefit to the individual voter to be one of the ones who picked the winner. Elections are about discovering the will of the people. But when we let fear dictate the range of our choices, we limit those choices. And remember: the whole reason we have elections is that we cannot predict what the outcome will be. If the result were as obvious beforehand as people imply when they say that this or that candidate has absolutely no chance, that candidate probably wouldn't have gotten into the race to start with. They got into the race because the result is not a foregone conclusion.

Most of you are too young to remember a bank run. What happens in a bank run is that a rumor starts that the bank is unsound. People believe the rumor and withdraw all their money from the bank. Because of this sudden withdrawal of large amounts of money, the bank fails, even if it was stable when the rumor started.

This phenomenon is used every election year to destroy viable candidates who would have been better officeholders than the people who won in the end.

Fear is "the mind-killer", for it turns off some of your ability to think, and fear leads to rash actions that can ultimately lead to destruction. Think on that the next time someone tries to direct you using fear.

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