A World Driven by Fear

This is a convoluted way of getting to my subject, but let me start with a recollection of many years ago.

As a youth, I was in the local ice cream parlor/drug store at the beach resort where my family spent summers. I recall watching a young man – he was actually an older brother of a friend – as he left the store, glancing into a large mirror on the wall, momentarily studying himself, taking a small comb from his back pocket and combing his hair, studying himself again, smiling, then left.

Now, some seeing that older brother primping and admiring himself, smiling to himself in the mirror, would consider him to be vain, egotistical, in love with himself. But I realized as I watched him that he was not vain, his always having a comb at the ready to carefully maintain his coif, was not self-love; it was exactly the opposite. He was not admiring himself. He was checking himself out; making sure every hair was in place, his appearance proper, so that others, seeing him, would not view him poorly, think of him as anything other than handsome, attractive.

This young man’s constant attention to himself was not a love of self; it was a fear of inadequacy, a need to constantly attend to his appearance lest he be viewed unfavorably by others, thought of as not looking up to snuff, not perfectly groomed, not the handsome young man he wanted to be. To satisfy or, rather, to allay this fear of coming up short in the handsome department, this young man had constantly to be looking in the mirror, not admiring, but checking his appearance, to make sure he maintained his “rightness”.

In short, he was not was as some seeing him glancing in every mirror, checking his reflection in every store window he passed might think – in love with himself. No. He was actually putting up a smiling front to cover up his fear of not being admirable, not being handsome, not looking who he wanted, thought himself to be.

He was not egotistical. He was afraid.

Think of this. An egotistical person would actually be so content in himself, in his being, so cock-sure he looked fine, he wouldn’t care what the mirror reflected. In his heart, in his mind, he would know he was fine. Not better, just fine, content. The fellow with the comb, the one always primping and adjusting his appearance, was constantly fearful of some lack, always in need of making sure he didn’t fall out of handsome.

Now to the real subject of this discussion: the actions of those who carry themselves with haughty disdain of others different from themselves, who consider certain other people as lesser beings, who look down on Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, foreigners, people of other religions, anyone different from himself, as inferior beings. Those individuals who fit into the category of conservatives, “right” thinking individuals who must consider themselves as superior to others, supremes – see how this evolves – supremacists, if you will. These haughties are not, as our look-in-the-mirror friend was not, so supremely confident in themselves. They are, like he was, afraid. They have a need to reassure themselves, constantly place themselves on a higher level than others. In their heart’s heart they fear that they are not superior, better, finer, so therefore, they denigrate, mock, attempt to lower the worthiness of others in order to enjoy the false notion that they are stand higher in the eyes of observers, in their own minds. They are, definitely, not cock-sure elitists. They are actually frightened people, fearful that they do not measure up. They must constantly belittle others, just as our friend had constantly to check in the mirror, check to be sure they still seem superior, assure themselves that they are better, richer, smarter, not because they are, but because they feel, they fear, they know they are not.