Fear, The Great Manipulator by Hal O’Leary

Fear, The Great Manipulator by Hal O’Leary

Fear, The Great Manipulator by Hal O’Leary… “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” Franklin Delano Roosevelt.



Shark Jaws by Vera Kratochvil

No other presidential public statement of any other age can approach the tremendous importance this brief thought holds for not only a specific public at a specific time, but for all humankind at whatever age, past, present or future. The importance cannot be overstated, for the very survival of humankind may well rest in its ability to balance the necessity versus the danger that lies in this neurobiological attribute we know as fear. It is thought by most, I suspect, that FDR was speaking merely of the fear of being afraid , following Pearl Harbor and perhaps he was, we have no way of knowing. Regardless, I would like to probe a more profound interpretation of his pronouncement than what is commonly accepted. This is in no way meant to detract from depth of so great a sage. I have often thought that it is possible that even the greatest of minds and talents need not always be aware of their own profundity.

Before anything else, let me assure that it is not my intention to rid us of fear, for without fear the race would have become extinct in its infancy. I recall that in the use of The Wizard of Oz in a creative dramatics class, at one point in the story we would discuss the presumed cowardice of the Cowardly Lion and why he thought he was a coward. The discussion would usually go as follows:

Why did he think he was a coward?

He wasn’t brave.

What does it mean to brave?

Not being afraid.

With that came the opportunity to teach a great lesson.

“Being brave is doing something even though you’re afraid. Fear inspires caution.

It is just the irrational fears and phobias that we would do well to rid ourselves of, and the most horrific and irrational of those fears have plagued us from the beginning of history. I refer to the nefarious and sometime bogus fears created by one party or individual to exercise control over another. My guess is that it all began in the dawn of civilization with a natural rise of superstition, a superstition born in fear of an imaginary and often irrational cause of some misfortune. This led, in the absence of knowledge and an honest explanation for why things occur, to a necessity for the creation of omniscient and omnipotent Gods as causal agents for the mysterious. This vacuum created an opening for questionable self-appointed demigods who would enlighten those in darkness with the conveyance of the wishes and commands of the unseen God. Recognizing the tremendous power that could be exercised in relaying not only the commands of the Gods but in the authorizing of punishments to be levied for failure to honor its strictures, fear became an indispensible factor in allowing one entity to gain control over another or many others. This causal fear then became more real than imaginary. In such an atmosphere was religion born. With it came punishments for heresy ranging from simple excommunication to execution with the insanity of human sacrifice introduced as an appeasement for collective offenses. The harsh punishments have, for the most part, been mitigated over the centuries. At present aside from paying lip service to a universally accepted and common-sense set of morals, the commandments of most religions focus more on a strict adherence its dogma than to its commandments, with punishment left to the hereafter.

Of course, it didn’t take long before power seekers of all stripes gloomed on to the success enjoyed by the church in their power to control the behavior of its subjects with its use of fear even to the extent of Christianity making it impossible escape damnation with its doctrine of original sin. In such an atmosphere was the body politic born.

A little skill in antiquity inclines a man to Popery.

– Thomas Fuller

We tend to think that only in the dark ages of history were monsters like Attila the Hun or Genghis Khan able to command or slaughter millions through fear with the unabashed threat and promise of annihilation for noncompliance. Lest you think things have gotten better, it may be well to recall that more recently equally monstrous figures like Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler and others far surpassed the ancients in the number of lives sacrificed to their insane obsession with power. There is no question that the use of an induced fear is the factor that enabled each of them to carry out their insane quests for control. The difference lies in the fact that, with Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan fear came in the form of sheer intimidation with no resistance to their insanity from an ignorant and unorganized populace. Stalin and Hitler, on the other hand, met with and had to overcome political opposition by winning the approval for going to war by their more informed and better organized opposition. No ordinary citizen of any nation has a natural inclination or desire to go to war. They have to be persuaded that it is in their best interest to do so. Brutal intimidation no longer works. Fear is still the factor, but now it requires a sophistication that includes the use of a variety of fears to counter a disparity of views. This situation was recognized as early as the 13th century when Nicolo Machiavelli proposed that a nation should be kept in a perpetual state of war as a means of maintaining the fear, real or manufactured, necessary for control. It was he who wrote

“Hence many people reckon that when the opportunity presents itself a smart ruler will shrewdly provoke hostility so that he can then increase his reputation by crushing it.“ (20.6)

Since that time, a plethora of manipulative strategies have been developed to shrewdly provoke hostility in order to maintain a constant fear throughout the populace, blinding it to no concern other than its safety and security. I dare say that this American public and at this present time has fallen victim to a very devious manipulation. The manufactured so-called “war on terror” is nothing more or less than perpetual war. It has led to the surrender of so many of our sacred rights. The irony is that our soldiers are dying abroad ostensibly for a defense of the freedoms we are being denied at home. May I remind you of Ben Franklin’s famous admonition that:

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

FDR’s admonition “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” now speaks to the irrational fears manufactured by a plutocracy made up of greedy psychopaths whose aim is global domination. Only a reasoned demand for truth by a concerned public can counter the lies and deceptions, the veil of secrecy that lies at the base of our fear. As in the beginning, only truth and knowledge can set us free from the irrational and manufactured fears that are now being used to manipulate us into an acceptance of a status quo that could eventually mean the demise of civilization.

View Comments (1)
  • Diane

    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon everyday.
    It’s always exciting to read content from other authors and use something from
    their websites.


Hal O’Leary is an eighty-seven-year-old Secular Humanist who believes that it is only through the arts that one is afforded an occasional glimpse into the otherwise incomprehensible. He has been awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from West Liberty University.

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