While I don't want to seem paranoid, I worry that people in positions of power have become expert at manipulating the fear of the American people. History is rife with examples of leaders who use fear to distract, mislead, and undermine the will of the very people who entrusted them with power. Our own recent history is no exception. If you want to sell weapons to Columbia, exaggerate the threat of drug lords. If you want to build a wall between the US and Mexico, trump up the fear of illegal immigrants. If you want to invade Iraq, you say you "don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud." If you want to build an expensive missile-defense system, terrify people with predictions of nuclear holocaust. My travels have taught me to have a healthy skepticism towards those who peddle fear. And in so many cases, I've learned that the flipside of fear is understanding.
I'm hardly a fearless traveler. I can think of many times I've been afraid before a trip. Years ago, I heard that in Egypt, the beggars were relentless, there were no maps, and it was so hot that car tires melted to the streets. For three years, I had plane tickets to India but bailed out, finding other places closer to my comfort zone. Before flying to Iran to film a public television show, I was so uneasy that I nearly left our big video camera in Greece for its own safety. But in each case, when I finally went to these countries, I realized my fears were unfounded.
About This Entry
You are reading "Overcome Fear", an entry posted on 29 May 2009 by Rick Steves.