One Word. Fear.

I am afraid. I am afraid of the world I am living in. I fear for my children and the world they will grow up in. I am afraid for my country and for the world. Terrorism is here to stay. People who don’t value life on earth are doing things to innocent people who do value life on earth. I don’t see how you can win a war with people who think it is better to die blowing up innocent people than it is to live a life of love and interdependence.

I am afraid because I see a side of myself that scares me. My grandmother and grandfather both lost relatives in the holocaust. My great grandparents on both sides of my family were all immigrants. Yet I was afraid to have refugees come into my country for fear of what may happen. I was afraid to open my arms and extend to people who have seen such horrific events and have nowhere else to turn to the same opportunity that my great grandparents were afforded. It is the fear that one person in a group of 10,000 may commit an act of terrorism. This fear that grows inside of me sickens me. It is wrong. I see Canada opening up her arms and accepting refugees in a way that makes me proud to be a human. (see this amazing video)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt stated in his first inaugural address, “Only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. I never understood what that really meant until now. I look at the United States political landscape and I see Donald Trump is running a campaign based on fear.  His statements include:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. … 

Donald Trump was asked in an interview about whether Muslims should be subject to special scrutiny, a question he answered ambiguously. He then later affirmed that Muslims should be required to register in a database. source

He is running a campaign based solely on people’s fears. It is their fear losing the security of the nation, their fear of losing their advantage in life, their fear of the unknown that has created this anomaly that is Donald Trump’s campaign.

How are we allowing a person who is openly sexist, racist, and Islamaphobic to be a viable candidate? My naiveté shows because I thought America was heading toward a future of racial acceptance after Obama was elected. It doesn’t matter what you think of his political views, a black man was elected by the public to the highest office in the land!  Jamie Foxx talks about how groundbreaking this was in his most recent interview on the Tim Ferris Show.

As great as I felt that the U.S. had elected a person of color to the White House is as afraid as I am right now that Donald Trump is leading in the polls.  Will he really try to create a database of Muslims if he gets elected? Will they be tracked by the government? I wonder why the country does not see that he is willing to trample all over the constitution without a worry.

Fear is creating an atmosphere that is brutal for school age Muslims in this country. Muslim students are being attacked solely because of how they dress.

“The boys, who are in the same grade as the girl, allegedly put her in a headlock and punched her as they tried to take off her hijab, the source said. While beating up the girl, the boys also allegedly called her “ISIS,” the source said. source

The stories go on and on.

“Fifty-five percent of Muslim students surveyed by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) last year reported that they were bullied at school in some form because of their Islamic faith. That’s twice the national percentage of bullying reported by all students, regardless of their religion. According to the CAIR survey, verbal harassment is the most common, with non-Muslims calling Muslim students terrorists or referencing bombs. But physical assaults also occur.

These incidents are taking a psychological toll on Muslim youth. “At a crucial time in their identity development, they’re suffering from chronic trauma,” says Dr Halim Naeem, a psychotherapist and president of The Institute of Muslim Mental Health. Dr Naeem says that in the past few months alone, he has seen increased cases of depression, anxiety, image issues, paranoia, and substance abuse among Muslim American youth. In the short term, the constant stress wreaks havoc on students’ immune systems and destroys their focus, disrupting learning ability.” source


The British philosopher Bertrand Russell, writing as World War II was drawing to a close in Europe, observed that “neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear.” source I see people making decisions based on great fears all around me. Logic and reasoning have been suspended. Fear has replaced them.

Q1. What content do you teach that causes fear in students? #slowchatpe

Q2. How do you overcome their fear? #slowchatpe

Q3. What do you view as the scariest content to teach? #slowchatpe

Q4.  How do you address the fear that our students will face in the future in class?  #slowchatpe

Q5. Who helps you on Twitter or Voxer that helps you overcome your fear?  #slowchatpe





6 thoughts on “One Word. Fear.

  1. Pingback: One Word: Support | #slowchatPE

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  5. Martha J-H

    In my work with teachers I have found that, for many, fear is their primary driving force: fear of losing control of a class, fear of trying something new, fear of student rejection or dissent. Many teachers are so comfortable with their current levels of failure that they resist attempts to improve their practice. Example, when discussing the pros/cons of having students dress out there is often significant resistance. Many argue that requiring students to change clothes is essential because of safety, participation, tradition, or hygiene. While I have counter points to each of those, they are compelling reasons. The fear is exposed, however, when I have gotten teachers to examine their rationale for requiring students to dress out more deeply. Over and over again, when all the other arguments are removed, teachers share that they have kids dress out for two main reasons: (1) if they did not, how would they assign grades, and (2) what would they do with all that extra class time. Those reasons, their real reasons, are based in fear. While we must have grace, space, and compassion for the growth path of everyone we must also support courage and vulnerability.

    I applaud Justin’s perspective and am grateful that he opened the door to this important discussion in a professional context. For as Ira Shor said in Empowering Education, “all education is political”. As a profession we MUST critically examining how our practices reinforce or interrupt oppressive ideologies, such as this shared by Mr. Trump. And, If we are ever to get to a point where we can have large scale, individual courageous conversations about how our professional practice and personal
    beliefs/actions impact socially constructed inequities such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and nationalism, it is likely that we need to begin with courageous conversations about fear and job performance.


  6. theoddcentrictee

    What a thought provoking post. Fear is the great motivator that invites us to compromise our values in a flutter of self-preservation. Beware an environment that brings people with questionable rhetoric to power. Thank you for making me think. The questions are challenging! Great post, Justin!



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