The Campaign Against Fear

The campaign against Fear is the greatest movement of the race. Fear is not bred of ignorance. It is the child of half-knowledge. “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” What we don’t know at all we are not afraid of; as a sheep is happy, ignorant of the slaughter-house.

What we half-know scares us. Men used to be afraid of electricity, seeing it only in lightning; now they know it, and the motor-man whistles as he regulates the power of ten thunderstorms.

All along, humanity has been walking up to bugaboos and finding out they were absurd.

Strange! Men have thought fear helped morality. They tortured, imprisoned, killed, to cure criminals. They beat children. They burned heretics. Gradually they saw their folly. They are learning that crime is essentially fear, the fear of the consequences of doing right, and that you cannot put out fire with kerosene; that is, you cannot cure the fear of doing right by the fear of punishment.

The Romans built a temple to Fear. Fear has played a malign part in the history of religion. The most amazing creation of the human imagination is hell.

There are still those who are afraid to walk under a ladder, to carry a spade through the house, and to start on a journey on a Friday.

Business once was based on fear. Men thought the only way to get work done was by slaves, and by keeping them frightened. The capitalist and laborer still appeal to fear. But little by little the futility of it all is appearing.

Employers and employed are learning to appeal to the free co-operation of each other.

When men half-knew gods they trembled at them. Timor fecit deos — “fear made the gods.” The race today fears and dreads God less because we are nearer Him than in the past.


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