Why do Americans Fear Everything?

Why Americans Fear

A few days ago I had a passing conversation that bothered me. Someone posted “a problem” in a Facebook group. She said that after making her profile public, she was getting a lot of friend requests from the Middle East. And now she was concerned for her family’s safety. I get that the world is a dangerous place, but I disagree that it’s more dangerous than it ever was. So what is making Americans fear everything now?

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three-women-in-hijabs Why do Americans Fear Everything?

 

Americans Fear of Everything
What is Making Americans So Afraid?

I began wondering about this when I lived abroad. But it wasn’t until I returned home that I began to see it was much worse than I imagined. And I realized that fear seems to be trending upwards. We all know the country is sharply divided over cultural, political, or religious issues, But what many of us don’t realize is that that’s okay. Our country has always gone through these kinds of debates.

Our county was founded in a revolution. We have a long history of debates and demonstrations shaping cultural, social, and political movements in America. There have been contentious moments in our politics when American fears tore us apart. But someone or something always brought us back together again.

Terrorism is not new. It’s as old as politicians, police, and political asylum seekers. Guess which two I’m more afraid of?

woman-marching-for-facts Why do Americans Fear Everything?

 

Blogs, Opinionated Journalism and 24-hour News

These are only my opinions, but many blogs, opinionated journalism, and 24-hour news are muddying the waters. Some offer valuable information, but largely they are for entertainment purposes only. You have to have a healthy dose of skepticism in the information they provide— mine included.

I do a bit of research, but most of what you read on duffelbagspouse travels is my opinion and my experiences. Think— would my professor accept this as a credible news source? Most people understand that when reading lifestyle blogs. You wouldn’t solicit financial advice from just anyone, would you?

Facts vs Feelings

However, until recently, the debates have been based on feelings and not facts. How do you debate how someone feels? Unfortunately, this toxic, mean-spirited tone did not start with this White House. But it isn’t trying to tone it down either.

stop-Pretending-your-racism-is-patriotism Why do Americans Fear Everything?

 

Patriotism & the Constitution

I remember debating someone I thought was a friend. When he realized he wasn’t going to win the argument he resorted to calling me names. He even questioned my patriotism because I didn’t agree with him.

This country was explicitly built on civil discourse, rebellion, peaceful protests, and revolution. The founders even decided to write it into the constitution and yet, in his words, a patriot agrees with him.

Labeling Entire Groups of People

We live in such a hate-filled environment where people are more willing to believe the worst about other people. When did that happen? And why is okay to label whole groups of people as rapists, takers, and terrorists without proof? I love to debate. But I don’t debate anyone not willing to hear my side. I don’t expect to change your mind. However, I do expect someone is open to hearing my side without villainizing or calling me names.

Liberal vs Conservative

Some of my friends are Conservative. Lol. Seriously, don’t believe the hype. You don’t have to fear a takeover of your beloved country. It’s quite large enough for all of us to live in self-constructed bubbles. However, I suspect we have more in common than you think.  And if you are like me and you are honest. You don’t think in linear terms and you have views considered conservative, liberal, and maybe even progressive.

Fear of Science, Truth, and Knowledge

Let’s agree on one thing. There is no such thing as alternative facts. What happened to the belief in science in America? Granted, it’s true. We are all entitled to our own opinion. But let’s also agree. When talking about global warming, terrorism, or trade, opinions by industry experts are just more credible than what you and I feel. I trust the people who observe and study empirical data for a living.

Let’s also be clear. Just because a company is a dot.com, doesn’t mean it can’t be believed. All research is funded by someone. Alternatively, it is extremely important to know who those people are so that you understand their motives and biases.

Fear of Everything Travel

I’ve heard people express concerns about flying. Afraid to go somewhere where they don’t understand the language. Not interested in trying new foods, new music, or a different way of life. Or they don’t want to explore the temples, mosques or cathedrals because they don’t share the same religion. Ok, I’m not here to change your mind if it’s closed, but I want you to know that it’s not a reason for fear or anxiety.

Get the facts. Don’t rely on your gut, what so and so told you or the latest box-office action movie. You can look at blogs and YouTube videos, but regard them with a grain of salt.

Before I travel to a new country I check the state department website at www.state.gov. I checked it before we traveled to Turkey recently. It has information on the visa process, safety and travel advisories, and the location of the US Embassies. Then check out the particular country’s official website. All of which are important factors in considering my travel plans.

I am in no way saying not there are no concerns about travel. I’ve had my purse stolen in Spain and felt the prejudice in Poland. But if you do your due diligence, travel is just as safe, if not safer than any American city.

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Comments

  1. Wendy Lynn Lee

    Really interesting article, and I couldn’t agree more. The fear so many Americans express reallly bothers me. There’s a fascinating and wonderful world out there to explore, and why avoid it? The more I travel the less fearful I am. Each time I handle a difficult situation while traveling I feel even more confident for future trips.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      It’s the undertone and not so many individuals. There is a layer of fear that some in power are using to sew divisions because having us united doesn’t serve their purposes.

  2. Sidehustlerich

    Their fear has spawned a huge prepper/doomsday industry.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivalism
    But on the other hand, especially during this period of time, it’s also looking kind of prudent. It’s important however, to recognise constructive vs destructive fears. Constructive fears allow us to build innovative solutions to mitigate against damaging situations.

  3. Bev

    First, this is a great read! Yes, people are entitled to opinion, but it was so sad that some would result to name-calling, and questioning one’s patriotism was so disrespectful. I think not only Americans but people, in general, tend to fear things that are not familiar, most of us don’t take risks due unknown consequences. As for travelling, my country is also labeled as unsafe places (thanks media) to visit in Asia, so some people might be skeptical to visit but it’s actually safe. and we have amazing beaches here. Well, wherever we go I think we should always look after ourselves 🙂

  4. Tessa

    This is an interesting point of view! I do think that people are just afraid of something they don’t understand. And I completely agree that media plays a role in its need for views by playing sensationalized stories! I will have to pay more attention to see where else I might see examples of this.

  5. Adrienne

    I agree with Gigi on this one and though you do have your right to speak your opinion your post is quite contradictory. You are labeling an entire group of people as your post instructs is part of the problem with why “Americans supposedly fear everything. I’ve met many who aren’t from USA who are terrified to come here, yet I feel very safe. I am an American and I am not afraid of my country being overtaken, I’m not afraid of traveling abroad, I’m not even afraid of this media hyped up coronavirus. I do agree with you that the media is a contributing factor of ALL individuals who fear, regardless of race. The media instills fear and whether one falls victim to believing the endless regurgitated “news” is dependent on the person, not the country they come from.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Cool, to start, I really do appreciate your opinions as well. But– you don’t believe there is a large majority labelling whole populations as takers, a large divide between liberals and conservatives, mistruths and lies masquerading as truth? And that somebody must be benefitting from all the above? Ok, let’s agree to disagree and end with something we agree on.

  6. GiGi Eats

    This is a huge generalization because not ALL Americans fear everything. For instance, I don’t. I take it all in stride and I deduce what I should be “scared of” based off of my own experiences.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Nope not all, just a lot. You are very fortunate not to be on the blunt end of the attacks against Muslims, poor people, immigrants from poor countries, Mexicans, Asians, black men, women and children, and gays and lesbians—- that are ALL over the news. HOWEVER I was not referring to any ONE American but an underlying current that is has infected the country.

  7. Liz

    I love all your posts but I’m so grateful for this one! I am an AF spouse from Germany and I get so tired of Americans always trying to tell me how dangerous my country has become. I lived in Germany for 26 years and still visit my family for two months every summer but people see Facebook posts or even talk to other Germans that haven’t been back in ten years (but yet feel the need to tell everyone how Merkel ruined Germany and how we all live in constant fear now) and it terrifies them. Students have told me how their military parents turned down orders to Germany out of fear for their kids’ safety (while at the same time my mom was concerned for my safety as a teacher in the states…) and just recently a friend of ours was convinced that the Netherlands were now officially under sharia law because he read it somewhere online…
    I also agree that your political views dont have to be linear, mine aren’t either, and I think talking politics is important but I get frustrated too when people resort to calling names or shutting down the conversation. Luckily I’ve met lots of people like you and me so theres hope 😉 and I appreciate you putting it on this blog! Thanks!

    1. duffelbagspouse

      I feel ya Liz. And I completely agree. I too don’t understand America’s obsession with guns or their ridiculous mentality that this is the safest country. I know European countries like Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK are going through changes like the populism, religious extremists & terrorism, and migrants (which are three distinctly different problems). The world is in transition which isn’t all that unreasonable to expect. We need to be flexible, understanding and humane when dealing with them, cut out the name-calling and vilification.

      On another note— thank you for your support and taking the time to comment and share my posts. I’m hoping to have some new topics in 2019 that aren’t strictly travel-related but are worthy conversations nonetheless.

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