This TNW News story from London about a Muslim man being thrown off a train for 'suspicious iPad use' is more than just a saddening and weird example of the horrible treatment Muslims (and those mistaken for Muslims) are currently experiencing throughout Western and other societies. It's yet another canary in the coal mine of the need to extract out societies from living in a constant state of fear, and why our leaders need to lead from a place of de-escalation and strength through our collective society rather than the cheap trick of playing off our worst fears.
Fear is a legitimate emotion, but it's meant to be one that occurs in the moment to make you pause and rethink the action you were contemplating or to flee from a location. It's not supposed to be an emotional state in which you live for an extended period of time.
Those who seek to sustain fear in the public for their own purposed are creating an artificial human experience that's damaging for society, and science has suggested can be damaging for the individuals involved (due to body physiology and psychological reactions.) To be blunt, they're literally hurting society by letting fear continue for any length of time. Our leaders have an obligation to dissuade and dissipate fear so that we can make decisions for society with clear minds.
One of the most lauded and recognized examples of this leadership was the stand-out leadership shown by Winston Churchill during the two years that Britain suffered "the Blitz" of continuous aerial bombardment by the Germans during World War II. By any right, the British public should have had the permission to live in a near constant state of fear during this period. Quite literally death from above could come at any time and few places in the UK were truly safe from this experience.
Yet so many foreign correspondents remarked how the British public seemed to respond with a calm fortitude, going about their daily lives and responding to the bombings as best they could. It wasn't that they weren't emotional in responding to death and loss or the fear of it, it was just they didn't give in to it -- they did not "break" in the face of a potential state of constant fear.
A lot of credit for this was given to Winston Churchill's leadership, which worked to calm the public, focus them on the tasks at had (even if it was just the tasks of their daily life) and emphasize to his officials the need to,
a) help the public as quickly as possible access those things in their daily lives that brought a sense of 'normality' and 'grounding' -- i.e. regular access to groceries, sports in parks, etc.; and
b) identifying things the public could do to assist with combatting the things they feared, such as holding national drives to collect metal cooking wear donations to assist with war manufacturing -- even when they realized that the metal being collected was pretty much useless for the war effort and only suitable for kitchenware. The point was the public was helping. It was doing something. And it was doing something collectively to work against their fears.
Incidents of fear and hatred such as the one described by TNW News in London show the public has been left to fall into their random fears, their individual fears. They feel no safety from our collective society. And they don't feel that they have options to take meaningful actions of their own that will help combat those individual and collective fears.
Leadership, strong leadership, across the Western world is needed to combat and calm these fears. Those that choose to play upon them for their own ends will get burned (example -- former President George W Bush), while those that seek to overcome fears to build stronger societies will be lauded at home and abroad (example -- former President Nelson Mandela.)
Please, all leaders, step up to this challenge. And to the rest of us, push them to do so and help your fellow members of society. We deal with this together, as one. That's the evolutionary lesson of our species -- we only succeed together. Time after time it's been shown that if we abandon that principle, we fail.
Fear = failure. Hatred = failure. Let's not fail.