Anxiety is a weapon. We can’t see it, we can’t hear it, and we can’t smell it: only from very close will one’s nose pick up the sharp scent of the sweat that anxiety and outright fear can trigger. And for that to be possible, two people have to get closer to each other. Have to reach out, come together, stand beside each other on the underground and at the department store … without being anxious or fearful of each other. And for that, one needs an open heart, an unpreoccupied mind, and an open gaze. Rather than being full of distrust, of suspicions and prejudices, stewing there as if they were just waiting to be proven true and justified. One needs to possess great curiosity about others, it needs to be easy to take that step through the door to the outside, and one’s wonder at all that’s new and unknown needs to be innocent, joyful, and authentic.
A society where such openness prevails, where the urge to discover and the joy of exploration reign supreme, renders those in power powerless. Such a society questions norms, doubts authorities, and demands more than just lip service or going through the motions. It demands visions for the future, ideas, and thoroughly inspired policies full of concepts that are innovative to the core, full of reforms that actually deserve to be called such because they’re capable of accomplishing more than just economising labour, eliminating jobs, and rationalising institutions down to nothing. A society like this is the nightmare of many a politician. Because such societies ask questions and search for answers. The sole antidote to this asking and searching is anxiety. It doesn’t cost much—and it can be effectively injected into human beings with rumours and slogans and fearmongering via both legacy media and social media. It spreads quickly and acts like a poison that destroys everything: curiosity, solidarity, open society.
Anxiety is a weapon. But it’s only dangerous if we bow to it, if we shut ourselves in and let it be a danger.