It is not very often that I get time to ponder upon ‘Life’ and when I do I get stuck at some very basic elements. This might reflect poorly on me but the last time I tried to think about life, I got trapped by something as basic as ‘Emotion’. I realized that I do not even naively understand this simple word and yet I persisted (I have always been headstrong in that way).

I was trying to understand what could qualify as the ‘strongest emotion of all’ – the gut said it has to be ‘Happiness’ (but isn’t happiness a state of mind guided by emotions rather than emotion itself?); the heart was rooting for ‘Love’; the mind had read somewhere that it was ‘Hate’ and I was sure that a suppressed part in the brain was advocating for ‘Rage’.

Four strong contenders and yet I gravitated towards ‘Fear’. I think that just like colours, there are some basic emotions which combine to give a wide array of emotions and ‘Fear’ is the most basic of those basic emotions. I consider it to be the trigger – a shadow; a manipulator which remains hidden in the background most of the times and yet stage manage things. Give it a moment to sink in and then think through – isn’t ‘Fear’ the driver for most of (I would like to write ‘all of’ but then sometimes one needs to have moderate viewpoint) our emotions?

There are times when I have rushed to a conclusion and this may be one of those instances but, as of now, I feel that if one has the ability to influence the fear in others (s)he has the ability to control them. Fear obstructs logical thinking; manipulates priorities; guides most of our critical decisions and we seldom realize this brazenly open fact. This is the reason that people who would love to lead us are often tempted to use tactics which invoke the potential ‘fear factor’ amongst us.

As stated I may have rushed to a conclusion again but what is the harm in giving this hypothesis a chance to be tested in the real world? Elections are just round the corner and political parties and individuals would seek our mandate – our permission to be governed; our consent to be controlled. There would be many marketing gimmicks but I think (as in past) fear would emerge as a potent tool.

‘Fear’ of the minority to be under the complete domination of right wing majority fundamentalists; ‘Fear’ of the majority to lose a considerable interest to minority (which to some is also the appeasement of undeserving) in the name of ‘secularism’; ‘Fear’ of downtrodden and backwards to be, yet again, pushed back to the periphery of the development; ‘Fear’ of the higher class (which may sometimes be read as caste) to lose their prominence due to social engineering; ‘Fear’ of the employed to be left behind as the economy slows down; ‘Fear’ of the youngsters not getting their due because of flawed governance; ‘Fear’ of middle class being looted continuously by corrupt babus; ‘Fear’ of housewives over rising expenses and what not.

It would be a pity that these fears would determine our future. I know the last sentence has the potential to be a bit controversial – am I suggesting that Inflation, Corruption, Job Creation and Economy should not be a part of our decision on our vote? No, I am not. What I meant was fear should not solely guide our vote – it should be accompanied by logical and rational thinking.

But we are but humans. We err – we are naturally designed to give in to fear. We have done it for millennia and we would continue to do so in the future too. The game is on – parties and individuals are and would continue stoking our fears. The ones who manage to manipulate the fears better and in a refined way would hold an edge in the coming elections.

P.S: There are many ways to manipulate fear. I know a few tricks myself: 1. The fear of unknown – remember the ghost stories? 2. The fear of known – the famous dialogue by Gabbar Singh proclaiming that kids are kept in discipline by invoking his fear illustrates this form. 3. The fear invoked by showcasing one’s weakness – ‘You are too weak. You know, you cannot fight this alone.’ type situations. There could be many other tricks in the ‘Fear Management’ course. Watch out and keep me updated if you find those.