Who is it that is scared? A recent study in the journal Current Biology has shown that one of the things that defines a conservative mind is a much stronger reaction to images that may inspire revulsion, disgust, fear.The study has confirmed previous research that demonstrates there are fundamental differences in the conservative and the liberal mind. So much so, that the intensity of brain reaction to a single image could be used to predict voting patterns, tolerance, xenophobia, attitudes toward gun control, war, abortion. An image as simple as a close-up of a cockroach, garbage, vomit, a bearded man with a gun, a bombed building, a ridiculous caricature of a revered figure, fires the brain in orange and red. Fear and disgust become primary motivators, invoking judgement, not reason, anger, not compassion.

At extremes this fear becomes the anger of a zealot. A terrorist wants to cause fear because fear is what they feel. A strict rule, an ideology, an identification with the mass, invokes a sense of order that is a balm to this fear. An offense to this order is experienced with an intensity felt like a threat. A zealot dominated by fear finds in the fight or flight response a seething, intractable compulsion.

This fear is continuously invoked, by the media, by politicians, by those who both create and promise us panaceas for our anxieties. Whether it is hard-wired in the brain, or conditioned through exposure becomes an important question. Can fear, can anger be unlearned, become compassion?
What is a satirical cartoonist? No matter how refined their art, or how vulgar their expression, they are like 12 year old boys; fearless, they mock everything, chortling amongst their compatriots at surreptitiously scrawled notes behind teacher’s back. Chide them gently and wait for them to grow up. If they don’t, laugh at their audacious silliness, and move on. Should a child, however they offend, be subject to extreme violence for juvenile laughter?
As to zealots, terrorist, perpetrators of such acts the world over in the name of faith, creed, patriotism, their fear makes them happy to kill, makes them find solace in death. Why fear them, why kill them, when that is what they want? When there are so many ways to teach them. Perhaps if we begin to understand such barbarities are committed not out of the fear they wish to inflict, but the fear they feel, born of an indignation as zealous as our own, we can all begin to take to heart a simple but difficult lesson; without fear, there is no enemy.

The rest speaks for itself.

#JESUISCHARLIE

mri-disgust

Intense red/yellow areas resulting in disgust or fear predict conservative orientation. Blue/green areas resulting in enquiry or curiosity predict liberal orientation. Image from Woo-Young Ahn in Current Biology

LucilleClerc

Lucille Clerc

nickanderson

Nick Anderson

makhlouf

Egyptian cartoonist Makhlouf

sandrinemartin

Sandrine Martin

claybennett

Clay Bennett

simonbailly

Simon Bailly

timakeroyd

Tim Akeroyd with the help of Jean de Brunhoff

deadcatbounce

@deadcatbounce on Twitter who proudly claims they can’t even draw, but took up the pencil nevertheless.

garyvarvel

Gary Varvel

lunajoulia

Luna Joulia

wingz

Wingz

RobertCrumb

Robert Crumb

Haaretz draws a comparison to the murder of journalists in Gaza by Israel.

Haaretz draws a comparison to the murder of journalists in Gaza by Israel.

rogerwaters

Roger Waters – musician, activist, gives us a timely reminder not to allow fear to push us into the hands of fascists, racists and those who hate.

charlie-no-enemy

C S Hughes with the help of Charles M Schulz

 

 

About The Author

C S Hughes

C S Hughes is a proud member of the TV generation, studied film and communications, collects the paperback books of Philip K Dick, loves science fiction and fantasy books, B grade movies and cult TV, American thrillers and British noir, restoring vintage watches, reading poetry, creating innovative illustrated poetry books which are available in Apple’s iBooks format, and cake. Especially cake. He has also written short stories, and has a collection of horror stories coming out in 2015.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.