Fear Corrupts

John Steinbeck is reported to have said that “Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts, perhaps the fear of a loss of power”.

Fear has been a theme in my life. It has corrupted me, paralyzed me and kept me from being the man I can be. I’ve often altered my beliefs to stay in concert with others and to elicit praise from people I thought were better in some way than I am. For example, I might be in conversation with someone and feel threatened somehow so I get quiet or I back away from my belief fearing that I might be proved wrong. It’s so much better now that I’ve admitted it. I try to be conscious of these feelings whenever they invade. I find that staying aware of what’s going on in my head is the only way that, over time, lessens the fear. So I know fear and I know how it controls those who are afraid and I know how the afraid use it to control others. I’ve done it.

I believe that our current administration has been corrupted by fear and that that fear will hasten the end of America. I believe that the executive branch of our government is run by unbridled fear in a guise of bravado. Further, I believe they have discovered that by keeping the country afraid they can control the populous and slowly take away our freedoms. They claim that we’re the most powerful nation in the world and they may be right but we’re not at war with any other nation. Sure we occupy Iraq and we’ve installed a puppet government in Afghanistan but we’re at war with a word and the word can be applied to any group we don’t like. The application of the word is so amorphous that it can be used whenever convenient by those whose goal is to keep us scared and, therefore, controllable.

I love the declared morality of our nation but I detest that we don’t practice it. At best we are a nation in denial. At worst we are a deceitful band of liars whose only goal is to protect a way of life that is unsustainable without trampling any group that dares get in our way. I’m hoping that it’s denial but believing it’s somewhere between the extremes.

I speak with friends and mention that I believe that racism against blacks is a primary problem in our society and they tell me I’m delusional, that I’m stuck in the 60’s, that racism is a thing of the past. Point out that more than three quarters of the prison population are men of color and they shrug or tell me that they’re, after all, the ones who committed the crimes. Talk about the obesity and diabetes epidemic among blacks and they blame the victims with vicious lines like; “something new in America, fat poor people”.

We are no longer a nation of the people we are a nation of the corporation. Slowly but surely our rights are being subjugated to the corporation. Big government is considered a curse word in our society while big corporations buy our officials. Our health care has incredibly been ceded to insurance companies. Ancient remedies are being labeled as superstitions in favor of expensive drugs, each of which carries side effects which can only be solved with another drug. We’re outsourcing our military to corporations like Black Water. Our so called liberal media is being concentrated more and more under fewer and fewer major corporations. Major banks are allowed to charge interest rates in excess of 25% on credit cards they issue to people who can’t afford them.

Yes, I’m disgusted and I’m going to continue to say so. We are quite simply not the people we claim to be.

Posted June 19, 2008


I have always had difficulty in sorting out my responsibility and, if you will, culpability with regard to the imbalance in this world. I benefit from what this government does whether I like it or not.
And I go on living a life of profound comfort when compared with most of my fellow travlers on this planet.
I take solace in the experience of knowing joy, peace and love outside of the bounds of the material world. What I mean is that my conscience is somewhat ameliorated by the knowledge that true peace comes from within.

Dear Sir / Madam,

I can’t deny your words have further saddened me and forced me to once again ponder the very same issues you have voiced in your article. With regard to some of your talking points I feel the same, and with regard to several others I can only state there is so very much I could say both for and against. Fear, desperation, and a complete lack of hope will lead men to commit horrible atrocities, which is something I think we all understand.

Throughout history and within every culture, regardless of race, sex, or religion this has always been the case. Just know that you are not alone in your thoughts and although I do differ in my views on many of them I would also state I recognize the viewpoint you have voiced and never fail to wonder what I may be blatantly missing when I ponder my own.

As an American, I long ago ceased to believe in our system, nor do I hold for any hope that it can or will be changed. Historically this is just not how things occur, and the end result is for the most part “fire and ashes” and the birth of something entirely new. You will not find, no matter how heavily you may try, any society that has risen to the heights we here in America have achieved, that has not peaked in some manner or other and then through decadence and internal corruption slowly degraded, while somewhere a societal replacement slowly came to the fore (whether from within or geographically elsewhere).

I do not pretend to know what the future will bring, but I do know that the America we thought we knew is not the nation we are fighting to defend, nor further wish for our children and grandchildren to be a part of. I remain an ultra-conservative in my views and I likely will continue to do so until I die, however, I recognize that our freedoms are disappearing by the day and the system we have created is rapidly transitioning to something entirely foreign to the very ideas and inherent concept of freedom we were once taught existed in this great nation (does this new Department of Homeland Security make you wonder?). To my mind we yet remain the last bastion of hope for the few remaining areas of the world that have never experienced the very freedoms our nation was founded upon, and part of me still hopes people will continue to look upon us as the measure to which they should work towards.

Nevertheless, I continue to witness the growth of corruption within our establishment, and the very standards upon which we were founded (across all areas and at all levels) being lowered daily to meet the levels of the many minority viewpoints, foreign nations, and world economies that have both failed and/or could never have worked to begin with (we have failed to achieve that critical balance between unity and diversity that our political parties continually crow about).

To my mind unity in our nationality makes us great, and diversity in our ethnicity and cultures is a personal point and should not affect the other. I guess I could sit here and blame the political system or the various groups both liberal and conservative that comprise them, but it isn’t that simple. Frankly I have no answers, I merely see the problems and witness the results anytime I dare to walk the public streets or deign to view the broadcast news.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not so weak or bitter that I’ve surrendered in any manner and I do my part to vote in a responsible and educated way, to include actively participating in those community efforts that I feel may one day actually bear some fruit. Yet more often than not all I see is make-work so some politician can claim “Come see this, we’re making a difference! Look what I’ve organized and done for you!”, and then watch as a few photos are snapped for display in the local paper. As disillusioned as I may sound, I make a concerted effort to hide it well and just keep on trucking, but my heart feels so very different than the face I wear when I go about my daily duties in this once great American society. In closing I would merely state, the very best of luck to all of you, regardless of your race, sex, religion, or even non-religion.

God Bless,

Rick Maze

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