I have often used this phrase, so often in fact that I’m sure my Twitter followers are tired of it.  The reason I use it is because I honestly, truly, believe it.  When you fear someone, it is impossible to love them.  It is impossible to embrace them openly and without restraint, and to consider them in a humane and loving fashion.  Fear will shape your responses.  You will, in short, either fight them or flee from them.

This is brought home to me most often when I witness the racial dialogue in South Africa.  I have recently read through facebook pages of Sunette Bridges, and some of Steve Hofmeyr’s twitter feed.  These are not uneducated people.  These are not unknown people.  These are people who have travelled the world, and who have vast followings.

Largely, what they suggest is that black people in South Africa are savage, murderous, unthinking beasts, ready to kill the white people in their homes, rape their women and children, and steal their land.  Any black person who holds a position of power is regarded with open hostility. Propaganda emails are disseminated by a largely unthinking population, who have so bought into the mentality that “statistics”, when quoted, are not questioned, and “conclusions”, when they are given, are untested.

The problem is that these people are basing everything on fear.  When you act on fear, you act in a way which is inherently illogical.  The reptilian brain kicks into action and suppresses everything else.  The reptilian brain requires you to categorise your world into a way which will enable you to make it a safer, more predictable place.  And so you categorise people.  In this case, black people are the enemy, white people are not (unless they are libtards and feminazis).

Or, to put it into Star Wars nerd terms : fear leads to hate, and hate leads to the dark side.

Now, any parent will tell you that the quickest way to overcome fear is to make that which you fear, familiar.  Want to overcome a fear of flying?  Fly more often.  Want to overcome a fear of spiders : expose yourself to the suckers.  But instead, what we see happen is the laager mentality, where the people withdraw into their little enclaves, refuse to engage with the “others”, and so fear builds on hate, builds on fear, builds on hate.

Ironic, really, when you consider that white people have inflicted so much more damage over the years on black people. When you consider that we have never been oppressed, or marginalized, or denied basic civil liberties. That we are STILL privileged.

It makes me realise that what we fear is not the darkness in others, but the darkness within.