Last week I attended a book launch at the Amnesty International office here in Ottawa. The book, Illusions of Security, is authored by Maureen Webb, and it discusses issues of global surveillance by governments in the post 9/11 world. As I sat there listening to the speakers, including the author, detail the current threat of government surveillance programs and why we should all be scared (after first praising and congratulating each other on how wonderful and self-sacrificing they all are), I looked around the room at the audience. I suddenly came to the realization that I was in a room full of about 200 privileged white people…. looking for a reason to be scared. 


The Queen and I were the only Black people there and although I had initially been invited by this white friend of mine, I only went because she wanted “a night out during the week.” There were two other “brown” individuals in attendance, who if I had to guess, I would say were of South American Indian heritage. They both had this “look” on their faces during the proceedings. You know the one I mean. The “look” that says “can you believe this sh*t!” On the way home the Queen expressed how condescending the whole event was and what a waste of time. We laughed and had a discussion on how the privileged white progressive/yuppie socialist types, are always appropriating the atrocities and/or injustices experienced by “peoples of color”, as the basis for their works of literary and artistic expressions, such as books, articles, films etc. They then reap the monetary awards and critical praises for their work and self-inflicted compassion, while projecting this image that they are potential victims themselves.


The more I thought about it, the more I became enlightened to the fact that white people really do like to be scared. They are scared of Al-Qaeda. They are scared of Osama Bin Ladin. They are scared of the environment. They are scared of the flu. They are scared of getting old. They are scared of their young. They are scared of getting fat. They are scared of getting thin. They are scared of rap music. They are scared of the poor. They are scared of immigrants. They are scared of Black people, Brown people and Yellow people. They are scared of Christians. They are scared of Muslims. They are scared of corporations. They are scared of the past. They are scared of the future. They are even scared of themselves. And according to this book, we need to be also scared of the government. THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT TOO!!! The list of what they are scared of is endless. I could go on and on! I have just touched the tip of the iceberg of their fears.


The more I meditated on this, the more aware I was that here, within North American society, with all that we have been blessed with materially, technologically, financially and even spiritually, we have developed this culture of fear that has become the basis of our existence. This mindset of “seeking” to be a victim has permeated our society. It’s as if we need to constantly feel the emotion of fear to feel alive! Then if there isn’t a pill marketed to deal with our fears, there is of-course “counseling” to treat our phobias. If it’s real bad…. critical even, we can then call Dr. Phil or Oprah!


A Muslim friend and I discussed this phenomenon and he pointed out that those who live in areas of constant civil strife, poverty and oppression, primarily black and brown people, where their lives could be taken at any moment, do not define their existence by fear. They will struggle to live! They will fight for justice! They seek to enjoy life! They do not go around looking for reasons to be scared! They are not crippled by fear! They don’t find any merit in being a victim! 

Privileged white people looking for a reason to be scared. “BOO!!”

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be scared.” John 14: 27 (NIV)

I wish you peace.