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Afraid of the light.

It was Plato (BC 427-BC 347) who said that “we can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when people are afraid of the light.”

 There have been numerous periods throughout human history when people in public and powerful positions have used fear to inflict their will or ideology upon their fellow-citizens. We are living through a period of history now where in many parts of the world, including the United States of America, the specter of fear seems prevalent in our public discussions – the fear of terrorists, of government, of elected officials, of Muslims, of Mexicans, of Republicans, of Democrats, of protestors…and the list goes on and on.

It is true that we are living in a time of economic and cultural insecurity. An exceedingly small minority owns more wealth than a very huge majority, and such income inequality continues to grow. Culturally we are in a state of flux as mass migrations of peoples cross borders due to war or famine, and seek a peaceful and productive life elsewhere.

While the causes of these insecurities are complex, they are the primary root causes of fear. It is therefore important that we seek to find and implement radical (meaning getting to the root of the problem) solutions to replacing fear with “light.”

Part of the answer for those of us in the USA may be to draw on the power of our historic and Constitutional ideals. Continuing to take the risks of developing and supporting new and sustainable technology, more equitable prosperity, and a more just commerce will do more than xenophobia (fear of the stranger) to banish people’s insecurities. In addition, one way to overcome resentment is through just and equitable economic growth – not to put up walls. One way to defeat Islamist terrorism is to enlist the help of Muslims – not to treat them as hostile enemies. You, I, and surely the political parties we support need to make that case loudly and convincingly.

But here is the most personal part of all – the choice ultimately falls to us as voters, and most of us do not subscribe to the rule of fear. But the turnout for primaries and caucuses in America was less than 20% in this last series. I hope you will forgive me for saying that “that is shameful!” The way to beat the rule of fear is at the ballot box. The moderate, positive, and optimistic majority has a responsibility to show up and put a cross next to candidates who stand for openness and tolerance as an antidote to fear.