Fear of the Light

Richard David Hames
7 min readMay 31, 2020

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark. The real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light ~ Plato

Honest, sensitive, overpowering. His words leapt off the page — etched into my lingering anxieties about the immediate future of humanity, set against the canker which continues to gnaw away at the souls of old empires –actual and imagined.

This particular Facebook comment was posted by a friend in California. A loving family man, smart, a designer of some note. A true visionary. But what struck me was the sense of intense gloom from a human being whom I know to be so unfailingly optimistic about almost everything.

There’s only one dominant emotion in the world today and that is fear, he said. What’s next is my own fear. What do I say to my boys and their sister? What can I do as a father in a storm this big? How do I protect them from hate and the growing risk in front of them?

The despair which triggered such sombre reflections from my friend was the senseless death of George Floyd on a street in Minneapolis by police officer Derek Chauvin.

Today America is fuming with anger. There is a sense of apprehension as people take to the streets and turn on each other yet again. In the past year 1,014 people have been shot dead by police in America. African Americans are killed at a lopsided rate in comparison to other groups. In most of these cases, the police are not charged with any wrongdoing.

It is time to face the facts. Deeply ingrained racism still fuels hatred in this deeply-divided nation. After decades of growing inequality and conflict it is clear that racial justice does not exist in what is essentially a police state — one failing to live up to its own self-conceit. This is a state that still deludedly sees itself as exemplary — yet has become nothing more than a playground bully. A physically intimidating brute with the mind of a narcissist and less courage than the fictional lion on the yellowbrick road..

But my rage extends much further than that. Although America’s descent might offer us a glimpse of our own fate, focusing the spotlight purely on the US or its eccentric President is a distraction. My rage reaches past any one nation, beyond the fraternity of universally-ineffectual leaders, into the deepest recesses of the human condition we have so casually crafted and a citizenry lobotomised by money and materialism.

Richard David Hames

Philosopher-Activist and Executive Director at Centre for the Future