Looking at Old Photographs===’Fear of the Unknown’

We have been having a tidy up. ‘Junk accumulates to fill the space available to it’. Among the junk in a spare bedroom was a box of photos. There are hundreds of them. Some are in albums, some in packets and some just loose. Few of them belong to the wife and I. Most of them belong to the daughters. How they came to be in our house is a legacy from the past – times when they all lived at home before they flew the nest. Among many, many other things, they need to be sorted out and, to a certain extent, chucked out. It isn’t a matter of wholesale destruction of memories, it is a matter of not keeping half a dozen copies of the same scene. One of our sets of photos is an album devoted to our first cruise. Herself won a cruise for two on The Canberra! The photos are in an album. Few of them are repetitions. That was 1984 – 30 years ago. I was surprised to see how slightly handsome I was then. (Readers should tolerate my faint praise of myself, please. Herself was also quite pretty, despite the fact that the MS had already shown itself)  There are also photos of our second cruise (paid for by ourselves) two years later, also on the Canberra. There’s a stack of photos of family holidays going back to the 1970s, and lodes of photos taken at our homes over the years. I think that some of them date from the late 1960s, but I haven’t looked at them all.

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There is a point.

In those old photos, we were all very, very jolly. Not a care in the world. We were drinking, smoking, posing, dressing up, being silly. Not a care in the world. And, when you think back 30 – 40 years, you can recall that hardly anyone was scared.

Something happened. Somehow, fear was introduced into our lives.

In the late 1950s, post-war austerity was gradually relaxed. Ordinary people began to be able to afford telephones, TVs and cars. In the 1960s, that process accelerated. PM McMillan said, “You’ve never had it so good”, and he was right. True, there were trouble spots in the world, such as the Malaya emergency as it was called; there was the Mau Mau in Africa, and there was the Korean war, but those problems were reasonably contained. What was important was that Europe was at peace, despite communism in the East. The balance of power, in the form of nuclear weapons, ensured that the lines drawn between the communist East and the ‘Free’ West stayed firm.

And yet, despite peace and safety, fear was introduced into our lives.

I can’t remember the chronology, but it does not matter. There came into our lives REGULATIONS which governed the actions of millions of people. Motorcyclists were told to wear crash helmets – for their own good. If they did not, they would be punished. Motorists and their passengers were told to wear seatbelts – for their own good. If they didn’t, they would be punished. But at least those laws were black and white – either you did or did not wear a crash helmet or wear a seatbelt. What really threw the cat among the pigeons was the drink/driving law. Here is the current law:

In England and Wales, the alcohol limit for drivers is 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath or 107 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine. In most other European countries, the limit is less, usually 50 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood

Can you see the problem? I’m sure that you can. The problem is that you have no way of knowing whether or not you are over the limit. Thus fear of the unknown was created.

I don’t know if that ‘fear of the unknown’ was deliberately created, but I do know that it was deliberately used to create a fear of being caught committing a crime which you did not know that you were committing. That was entirely deliberate. Who among us, at the time, would not have bought a cheap personal breathalyser had they been available? It ought not to have been difficult to produce something similar to litmus paper which would change colour depending upon how much alcohol was in your breath. A tube you blow into for X length of time; unscrew the collector and check the colour. Green is OK, blue is iffy and red is a no-no. Even today, as far as I know, there is no such device.

‘Fear of the unknown’ has been refined over the decades. When we went on our cruise in 1984, no one checked our handbags or luggage. No one was afraid. When herself and I first started going to Mallorca, about 15 years ago, checks on our hand baggage were minimal if at all. There was no fear. Now, fear is palpable. Fear of lighting a cig, fear of having a couple of beers, fear of having something in your hand luggage which offends some regulation which you do not know exists. Fear of being searched and condemned because you have a cig lighter in your pocket. Fear of carrying a 500 ml bottle of water. And when you get on board the aircraft, there are announcements. “Only alcoholic drinks bought on this aircraft may be consumed” Really? Why? “Ecigs are not permitted” Really? Why?  It would be interesting to see what would happen legally if an airline permitted smoking in the rear seats once the aircraft was outside UK jurisdiction. The same goes for ships. Why are these airline and ship companies so afraid?

‘Fear of the unknown’ has been taken to the absolute extreme when it comes to ecigs and SHS. This is especially obvious when smoking bans are extended to the outdoors as is happening in Australia here and now, and is being promoted ‘voluntarily’ in some parts of the UK. The smoking ban in the air over hospital grounds is a case in point. Without the fear of SHS, people supporting such bans, especially fanatical doctors and academics, would be questioned as to their mental health, and as to whether or not they were mentally capable of doing their jobs properly. What use is an oncologist who believes in miasmas and witchcraft?

Having said all that, the real fault lies with our politicians. I really do not understand how so many of them are suckers for the latest frightening fad. Why are they even the slightest bit inclined to even recognise the idea of minimum pricing of alcohol? That too is a product of ‘fear of the unknown’. The hysteria about obesity is based upon ‘fear of the unknown’ – how many fatties will actually get diabetes because they are fat? I cannot help but feel that statistics are deliberately being manipulated. I don’t mean that, say, the ONS (national statistics) or hospitals are counting things wrongly. I mean that the fact, say, that lots of diabetics who appear in hospitals are fat does not mean that fatness is the cause of the diabetes. If that were so, then the question would have to be answered as to why so few fatties got diabetes.

Which reminds me of my last conversation with my dentist.

He started it. He said that he was still addicted to nicotine, and, even though he had given up smoking years ago, he was still inclined to scrounge a fag occasionally at the pub. For this reason, he carried nicotine lozenges with him. He showed me a pack which he had in his pocket at the time. I asked him, ‘did he see many incidents of mouth problems’? He said, sucking in his breath, ‘Yes – a lot’. I was in the dentist’s chair, at his mercy, and so I did not push it, but I know that the stats show that, on average, any particular dentist will only see a fatal cancer from any situ in the mouth every 20 years. Perhaps he was talking about brown-coloured teeth. Titter, titter. One of the great things about seeing these ancient photos is seeing how lovely your teeth were 30 – 40 years ago!

It annoys me very much that our elected representatives, who are supposed to protect us, have mostly allied themselves with those who persecute us by promulgating ‘fear of the unknown’.  You see, if there is a statistical chance (‘relative risks’) that SHS might just possibly, sometimes or occasionally, possibly, just make you sneeze, then venturing into the sea, no matter how good a swimmer you are, even if you just paddle, is far too dangerous, since there are unknown dangers in the sea. It follows that all shipping should cease, in case a seaman should fall into the sea.

‘Fear of the unknown’ is a modern fear. and it is very, very recent. In the not so distant past, fear of epidemics of contagious diseases was real. That is, the diseases were real. Now, the diseases are not real. They are inferred. They will catch up with you sometime in the future – maybe or maybe not. Well, like 5% maybe and 95% maybe not. But ‘fear of the unknown’ dictates that one should assume oneself to likely be one of the 5% rather than one of the 95%.

The crazy thing about these statistical assumptions is this:

“You must not cross a road, even if you can see that there is no traffic on the road, because there is a statistical possibility that a motor vehicle might ‘energise’ and knock you down and kill you. Even worse is the possibility of being only wounded, in which case you personally cause the NHS to expend lots of money. If it were not for people like you, the NHS would not need hospitals and such; it would need only academics, Public Health Experts, managers and administrators.”

‘Fear of the unknown’ costs a lot of money. If it were not for paying billions of pounds to ‘experts’ of all kinds to promote ‘fear of the unknown’, then multi-millions of pounds could be directed to worthwhile projects such as saving Greece. I do not mean paying Greece’s creditors. I mean helping Greece to get out of the Euro shackles. ‘Oversea’s Aid’ could be used for just that purpose. There is no need for us in the UK to allow the Greek people to starve. In fact, watching BBC News tonight, Cameron said that we should not interfere in the Eurozone, but, if the shit hits the fan, then we should give humanitarian aid to Greece. I wonder what would happen if ‘fear of the unknown’ was dispelled in Greece by such promises from all over the world? Is it not clear, from Cameron’s statement, that there is a well of European goodwill towards Greece? By that, I do not mean the goodwill of the 3rd Reich. If the Germans wanted their loans to be repaid, they should not have granted them so readily. In any case, how do we know that only German funds were advanced to Greece? The fact is that the money advanced to Greece came from nowhere. EU rules allowed the creation of money with ‘liability’ spread over countries in the EU, even if those countries were themselves in a mess.

It is true that Germans should not pay for the inadequacies of Greece. The Greeks should not expect to have the same level of possessions as that of Germans. On the other hand, they have benefits which are much more valuable than German loot. They have warmth, wine, tobacco, dancing and singing, tourism, ancient history, sexiness, music, good times.

Give back to the Germans what belongs to the Germans. Give back the submarines, the olympic stadia, the roads, the olive groves, the sea and the air. Whatever Germany financed belongs to Germany. Let them have it. It is theirs. Give them THE SECURITY upon which the loans were made. You see, even the most complex of lending arrangements are really quite simple. You borrow, you pay interest, you gradually, depending upon the agreement, return the principle. It is hard to believe that Greek debt is in the form of an overdraft, an unsecured personal loan or a credit card. So what was the security? What has happened, as far as I can see, is that the EU decided that Sovereign Dept needs no security. Right. That means that Greek debts are unsecured loans. If they go bad, tough. The lender must bear the losses. But what seems to have happened is that Greek banks are supposed to have been the lenders, so the failure to repay the debts amounts to them not being able to repay themselves! Even more crazy is the fact that no one seems to know how the German, Italian, Spanish, banks came to accidentally amalgamate with the Greek banks. How did that happen and who was responsible?

It is hard to see how the Greek people and their politicians can do anything other than start again. Get out of the Euro strangle-hold and become self-sufficient.

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9 Responses to “Looking at Old Photographs===’Fear of the Unknown’”

  1. Frank Davis Says:

    Very thoughtful essay. And you’re quite right that we hardly had a care in the world 30 or 40 years ago. And now we all seem to be frightened of our own shadows. And it is, as you say, a fear that has been created.

    Perhaps it’s that these days we’ve got everything we need – food, housing, etc – and the only way anyone can sell us anything is if it’s something we like (music, art, etc) or something we’re frightened of. And it’s much easier to frighten people into buying stuff than it is to make something that’s attractive and nice. So now fear is being used to sell us stuff.

    For example, take smoke alarms. Everybody seems to have them these days, and they were completely unknown 40 years ago. Yet 40 or 50 years ago people used to light fires in their hearths, and every home would have a blazing fire (in fact 4 or 5 blazing fires) in the middle of their houses. And they’d be smoking cigarettes and pipes as well. And they’d have gas cookers with blue flames spraying out the top. There was fire everywhere! Yet nobody worried about fire. And there were no smoke detectors (if there had been, they would have been going off every 5 minutes)

    But now that we don’t have fires, and most of our gas cookers have been replaced with electric ones, and pretty much everybody has stopped smoking, we have smoke detectors on our ceilings. Now that we have little reason to be frightened of fire, we are more frightened than ever.

    It’s fear that sells smoke detectors. It’s also fear that sells crash helmets and safety belts. And fear that sells insurance. And probably most pharmaceutical drugs too. One might say that a great deal of our ‘industry’ is now fear-driven. And it’s good for business to ramp up the fear, and find new things to be frightened of (e.g. global warming). And so the fear is being ramped up and up.

    The result is that we now have lots of things we don’t really need at all. We’re imposing unnecessary costs on ourselves, and we’re slowly being crippled by iy. The EU is a vast regulation-generating monster.

    I think that, in the end, people are going to realise that they’re frightened of shadows. God only knows when they will though.

    • junican Says:

      You could also have mentioned ‘burglar alarms’ in the same sense. 40 years ago, no one had a burglar alarm. Has the advent of the external, wall mounted burglar alarm emerged from scaremongering alarm salesmen, or from the police etc, who want householders to save them the trouble of investigating burglaries? Also, have burglaries decreased?
      I think that most ordinary people DO understand that, for example, airport security checks are a massive waste of money. No self respecting terrorist would be stupid enough to waste killing himself without successfully killing many others, in order to ‘make a difference’. For that is what it comes down to. “Let’s ‘make a difference. Let’s blow up a few c*nts”.

  2. cherie79 Says:

    Never thought of it that way but you are absolutely right. Our generation isn’t afraid because we remember the past. I wonder how long it will take for the younger generation to realise that there really is nothing to fear but fear itself.

    • junican Says:

      Well said, cherie. Almost all of tobacco control is bent upon scaremongering. It has been scaremongering that has brought smoking bans. But it is also that same scaremongering which has brought a ban on nicotine ecig juices in Australia.
      It is always interesting when ‘authority’ buggers everything up.

  3. Jude Says:

    Interesting, there is now whole industries based on over regulation and fear of everything. The media also feed on this fear as much as any other organisation. Fear is great bait for getting people to read junk science articles that serve the prohibitionists.

    Over regulation is strangling so many lives. Lol, I’m considered a “rebel” because I refuse to wear a bicycle helmet, (I don’t ride on the road anyway, and I’m an adult, I don’t need a helmet). When my grandkids were little I was expected to purchase car seats costing over $100 AUD each, just so I was able to have them in the car with me, and drive them a couple of kms up the road. Utterly ridiculous. I can understand this if they were infants, but up to 8-10 years old, depending on their weight??? Having to sit in a “baby seat” was embarrassing for them, and expensive for me.

    We have a public health system in Australia, but we have ads every 5 mins about private health insurance, and how people are so much healthier because they pay for what everyone else gets for free, WTF is that about?? How does paying out huge amounts for private health insurance make you healthier, unless you own shares in the company.

    The latest, “smoking causes psychosis”, and “big babies at birth have a 26% higher risk of childhood cancer”, BE AFRAID, BE VERY AFRAID.

    • junican Says:

      It really is weird the WORSHIP of statistics has come about. How did statistics become biblical? How did they become THE WORD OF GOD?

  4. garyk30 Says:

    ‘Junk accumulates to fill the space available to it’.

    Would seem there is a ‘critical mass point’ after which no more junk will be accumulated?

    Our house is an exception. 😦

    • junican Says:

      LOL!
      So is our house an exception. There is still a lot of room. There is always a good reason to hang onto that piece of copper piping. I would defend to the death that that piece of copper piping might come in useful some day. The same applies to pieces of cycle tyres and inner-tubes, along with bent nails of various sizes. How can one throw out wooden planks? SACRILEGE! Think of the environment!

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