The effect of fear is to enslave; the effect of peace and joy is to liberate. Our society is absolutely full of persons who make a living peddling fear and getting rich in the process. Those who remotely suggest that we give up our fears are shouted down as unpatriotic, naive, and criminally stupid. The fear infects our legal system, our public policy debates, our economy, our educational programs, and our religion. If you are not fearful and choose to ignore the professional "fearmongerers", you are labeled a fool.
I remind myself that there are real situations that rightfully cause fear. Natural disasters are a good, ready example. Having experienced a few hurricanes and there aftermath, I can relate to the fact that such fear inducing events can elevate human behavior to its highest level or conversely cause the meanest of actions. My point is that fear causes many to operate at the extreme ends of the spectrum. Fear is the emotion that drives mob action, the hysterical kind of violence that is capable of all most any kind of atrocity. It can also create amazing moments of self sacrifice and heroism.
So what should we do with fear as an emotion? It is constantly sold as a vital necessity, the only thing between mankind and the abyss. Fear merchants claim to be saviors, public servants who only point out existing evils and threats of evil. Anybody ever notice how rich and powerful these "celebrities" become. If fear sells so readily and its sale is so lucrative, is there any reason not to create as much fearful news and evidence as possible. The urge to create new fears is particularly compelling if the audience thrives on fear, in the base case, and never gets enough of its powerful emotional stimulation.
In considering the marketability and profitability of anxiety producing theater, I consider the appeal of the WWF. Most recognize that these events are staged productions and that the "villains" cultivate the audiences hate and loathing to boost ratings and increase revenues. Despite that fact, these matches draw great crowds of avid fans who readily internalize all the drama and emotion of the spectacle and seemingly allow themselves to be manipulated into an absolute frenzy. The spectacle is totally contrived but the resulting emotions in the crowd are anything but.
Cautiousness in the face of real danger is always proper. Life has risks and those risks can be mitigated by caution. However, allowing other people to fan our natural cautiousness into hysterical fear and make millions in the process is unnecessary. Why pay the preacher, pundit, or politician to make us fearful, and then pay the doctor to deal with our stress induced health issues? Sounds more than a little expensive to me and not particularly smart.