This is the safest time in human history. So why are we all so afraid?
“What we’re talking about is anxiety, not fear,” LeDoux says. Where fear is a response to a present threat, anxiety is a more complex and highly manipulable response to something one anticipates might be a threat in the future. “It is a worry about something that hasn’t happened and may never happen,” says LeDoux.
This may seem like a small distinction. But in actuality, it is everything. Because where fear is about a danger that seems certain, anxiety is, in LeDoux’s words, “an experience of uncertainty.”
And that uncertainty is the exact lever that politicians regularly use to try to influence your behavior.
The goal, however, is to separate real threats from manufactured ones. And to find a balance where we are not so scared that we’re making bad decisions that hurt us and our freedom, but not so oblivious that we aren’t taking steps to protect ourselves.