It was quite a weird day at work - it seems many of the more paranoid people were out and about today. One of our customers was saying he had been laid off for about a year and when I mentioned to him that the job market is looking up he said to me, in all seriousness, that it didn't really matter because the world was going to end in 2012. I had another customer call us to inquire why we were calling her, because our number came up on her call-waiting service. I told her it was probably a solicitation call, but she said it couldn't be because she already receives the paper. "So what is it, then?", was her very desperate plea. She was afraid that someone had sold her number to other companies and wondered why we had her number anyway. I didn't bother explaining the reasons behind this.
Others called today because we have tickets going on sale Monday for an upcoming event, and they were all worried that they had missed the opportunity to get the 'good' seats (they're all in the Fairgrounds' Cow Palace, so honestly, do any of them really constitute "good" seats?).
And these calls got me thinking - what sorts of thoughts are running through these people's minds all day? Every single aforementioned case has an element of fear. The fear of the world ending; the fear that someone is going to telemarket them to death; the fear of missing out on something 'important'.
Then I realized - pretty much all of our emotions stem from one - FEAR. Seriously, think about it - why do we get angry? Fear! Anger is fear realized. We get angry because someone or thing has wronged us. If we didn't care about what that person had said or done, we wouldn't have gotten angry. Prejudice is 100% fear-based. We are afraid of people who are different than us. Seriously! Why should we care what color someone's skin is? Why should we care what or who someone is praying to? What does it matter what sort of meat people eat or don't eat? Why in the hell do we care if someone is sleeping with someone of the same sex?
You guessed it - FEAR. We're afraid that our tiny worlds are going to be turned upside down if anyone different changes our narrow ways of thinking.
Jealousy also totally equals fear. Why are we jealous? Because someone has something that we want - a bigger house, hotter spouse, more money, better job, kids/no kids, better clothes, etc. Why do we want those things? Because people will like us more if we do (of course this isn't true, but it's what we think, right? That, or that we'll be happy only if things are better). And if we don't have these things, and someone else does, then everyone will like that person more than us, and we'll die alone, homeless and penniless and 20 pounds overweight and no one will ever love us again.
So how can we combat some of this fear? Let's start getting a little more selective about what we choose to hear on TV, the radio and over the internet and the kind of attitude we take in our daily lives. Take the case of the Balloon Boy yesterday - had anyone confirmed that the kid was in the balloon? No, obviously NOT! But all of the stations were talking like he was, and we all believed it. The entire nation was duped by a bratty 6 year-old and his nutty family!!! And what was the basic reason we watched? Out of fear!! We were all terrified (for no reason, it turns out) that some kid was going to die a horrible death and we were going to see it happen live (for many people, I'm sure it was the morbid curiosity that kept them tuned in).
So this Halloween season, let's all be afraid for the right reasons - getting more candy. Unless you're afraid of gaining weight.