Joseph Lee's Perspectives
My view of the world
June 11, 2008 - Fear Mongering and Star Trek

Recently, CNN reported that psychological tests performed on a group of potential voters proved that negative ads, especially those instilling fear and hatred, seemed to work, in spite of comments by those being tested that they felt the ads were "inappropriate" or that they were not impacted by the negative message.




As advanced a society as we pretend to be, our basic instincts guide so much of our actions.  The run up to the war in Iraq could easily be cited as an example.  And even the frequent posts by the Clinton haters.  As Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen writes, "With Hillary Clinton out of the race, thousands of computers are silenced..."




In an episode of Star Trek years ago titled "Patterns of Force" (Season 2, Episode 52, to be exact), a benevolent researcher, John Gill, was looking for a way to unite a the people in a fractured society, and decided that the model from the 1930's in Germany, when the Nazi's took power, would be an excellent tool.  And since John Gill knew of the pitfalls, he could simply make sure that things didn't go out of hand.  He was the benevolent dictator.




However, soon, things got out of hand, and he got drugged and his deputy took over, threatening to launch attack on a peaceful planet.  Of course, Captain Kirk and Spock arrive just in time to prevent the war.




The lesson (and trust me, Star Trek episodes are full of lessons) is that you cannot separate the good from the bad in a system that is inherently bad.   And perhaps, the stronger message is that human instinct is such that it can be manipulated, rather easily into the "dark side" (sorry, that was from Star Wars).




Today, in spite of the lofty speeches of Mr. Obama, the election may yet be won or lost as a result of fear mongering, whether it were of the national security or racist type.   And for those supporters of Mr. Obama, including the media-- if they truly believe that only the Republican Party and the Clinton campaign plays this game, they should do well to observe how much it had helped their own candidate.




The difficulty in promoting a culture of change, is that human beings essentially hate change, and no matter what they say,  they find safety and comfort in the traditional and the reliable.  And unfortunately, it is much easier for us to find a common enemy than to rally around a common good.




And in our work place, it is so much easier to control employees through intimidation and the threat of termination (or non-promotion) than to becoming a good manager.    That is why a good number of bosses have a higher opinion of themselves than their staff do.




Once we realize the world that we live in and appreciate it's imperfection, perhaps it becomes easier to accept both the good and the bad, and to act accordingly.   The world is full of people with good intentions who do bad things.




Unless, of course, your name is James T. Kirk.  In that case, you never lose.




 



2008-06-12 02:38:37 GMT
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