Monday 20 July 2015

Poetry: The Making of Terror

A  poem by Chengde Chen

Terrible as terrorism is, should we be so terrified, just as terrorists want?

It’s much less frequent than road accidents that kill hundreds every day; nor scarier than psychopaths’ random attacks that are as unpredictable.
There’re greater chances of being killed by a common cold or diarrhoea.

It is the media that 'turns' a homemade bomb into a nuclear explosion.
It is the government that 'legalises' the fear of it by changing the laws.
It is the trembling public psyche that completes the process of terror –
a religion of fear, jointly founded by enemies in the name of war!

The Americans should invite their 32nd President (Roosevelt) back,
as he understood that 'the only thing we have to fear is fear itself'.
Or they might consult successful or unsuccessful actors on Broadway,
who know only too well that a play can’t run long without audience

Readers can find out more about Chengde and his poems here


Thomas O. Scarborough said...

If only people would think rationally, but they don't. The question then is, why don't they? Is it in some way a valid perception which they have, whether this be a perception of the world or of themselves?

A proverb attributed to Solomon nearly 3 000 years ago: "Do not be afraid of sudden fear."

docmartincohen said...

I do agree with Chengde - and Thomas - but I recall too Hume wisely observing that it is not irrational to fear scratching a little finger more than the destruction of the whole world... We fear things that are of marginal significance - like flying - more than things that have a practical import. People will avoid Thailand for holidays more readily than (say) their daily commute.

This is the Hume passage, by the way:

'It is not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger. It is not contrary to reason for me to chuse my total ruin, to prevent the least uneasiness of an Indian or person wholly unknown to me. It is as little contrary to reason to prefer even my own acknowledged lesser good to my greater, and have a more ardent affection for the former than the latter. A trivial good may, from certain circumstances, produce a desire superior to what arises from the greatest and most valuable enjoyment; nor is there any thing more extraordinary in this, than in mechanics to see one pound weight raise up a hundred by the advantage of its situation. In short, a passion must be accompanyed with some false judgment in order to its being unreasonable; and even then it is not the passion, properly speaking, which is unreasonable, but the judgment.'

docmartincohen said...

(On behalf of Chengde, who writes by email)

"very interesting. Hume is right: "a passion must be accompanyed with some false judgment in order to its being unreasonable". I guess there are two folds of false judgment here which enhance each other: the public believes that it must be terrifying if the media and the government pay so much attention to it, while the latter believes (to some extend though) that more attention should be paid as the public is so terrified."

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