Isabella Mulholland 2014

Fear is the Key

“Fear is the Key” is an expression that suggests that this idea can lead to conflict or be at the heart of conflict. Many wars, fights and dreadful events in our history have begun because one group has been afraid and untrusting of what another may or may not do. Fear is a great way of controlling people and keeping them ‘in the dark’. I am Malala Yousafzai and I am going to address you about my experience of the conflict of which I was the victim. Fear generates conflict which leads to violence and harming of innocent people. My first point will explore how fear and violence can be used to control people and keep them uneducated. Second, I will look at fear is created by the unknown or a lack of understanding for something. And my third and final point will consider how accepting and supporting stereotypical views can lead to the cultivation of fear, producing conflict.  

First and foremost, imposing fear and violence to control people and keep them uneducated or ignorant makes it easier to control what they think and do. I was ten when the Taliban came to our valley of Swat. I loved going to school and being educated yet the Taliban were against this as they believe that the men should go to work, earn wages, come home, eat and sleep, and the women are responsible for giving birth and looking after everyone all day long. This meant that they clean our clothes, shop for us, cook and teach us how to behave. Power lay with the man, and the woman was just a domestic slave, illiterate, obedient and loyal. The Taliban brought with them a new regime and forced it upon us by creating horror and fear. They introduced curfews, burnt our CDs and TVs, and ruled that women weren’t allowed to go outside unless there was an emergency and if so they must wear a veil, but worst of all, they ruled that girls weren’t allowed to go to school and get an education.

The Taliban had taken over Swat with their machine guns, bombs, threats and violence. We didn’t feel safe anymore and fear filled our everyday lives. Any small disturbance or noise could be a bomb or gunfire. There wasn’t a day that went by without at least one Pakistani being killed, and dead bodies would be dumped in the square with death threats attached to them for everybody to see. They started bombing schools and accusing innocent girls who were being educated of doing shameful or undermining things. My friends, who also loved school, and I were horrified. We were scared to wear our school uniforms because the Taliban might throw acid in our faces like they had done to other girls in Afghanistan. We didn’t understand why they didn’t want girls to go to school. How dare Taliban take away my basic right to education? But when I asked my father he said that they were scared of the pen. I had not fully understood what this meant until I started writing an online diary and doing interviews, expressing my views on the Taliban and girls’ rights to an education.

The pen and the words that come from it can be much more powerful than machine guns, tanks or helicopters. I was one of the few people, along with my father, who openly stood up against the Taliban and I realised that I had become the pen and the words. I had become a threat to the Taliban and their regime and they feared me, because I brought hope and promised peace to women and the valley of Swat. Despite my efforts, the Taliban had successfully brought fear to Swat, and my father and I were receiving threats from them and warnings from our friends and family who were scared for our lives. I became terrified; I couldn’t sleep and I would double check the locks every night.

 

On the day I was shot, I was on the bus with my friends going home from school. We suddenly, stopped and a man wearing a peaked cap and who looked like a college student swung himself onto the tailboard at the back of the bus and leaned in right over us. “Who is Malala?” he demanded. I was the only girl with my face uncovered, and several of the girls looked at me, but no one said anything. That’s when the man lifted up a Colt 45 and fired three shots. One went through my left eye socket and out under my left shoulder. I slumped forward onto my friend, blood pouring out of my left ear, so the other two bullets hit the girls next to me. One went into the left hand of the girl next to me and the other went through her left shoulder and into the upper right arm of the girl next to her. My friends later told me that the gunman’s hands had been shaking, he had been afraid.

Secondly, fear can be generated from the unknown or a person’s lack of understanding. Some of you may be scared of the dark, not just because it’s the dark but because of the unknown hiding within. Whether we can prove that there really is something there, we’re still scared and act as if there is. Similarly, in Arthur Miller’s play ‘The Crucible’, based on the Salem Witch Hunts in the 1960s and the McCarthy period in the 1940s and 1950s, Miller recreates a horrid time in history where people were killed by others who were afraid of the unknown. As I am a bookworm, I explored the relationship between ‘The Crucible’ and the McCarthyism.

The play explores witchcraft, an invisible force that frightens people simply because they cannot see it and don’t understand it. The hysteria caused a lot of different conflicts to arise as people were being falsely accused and hanged. People feared the witches and feared being accused, and it was this fear that created more accusations to be made and more deaths to take place. The court hanged people on barely any or no evidence at all, but because of the court’s lack of understanding of witchcraft and therefore their inability to prove the accusations to be wrong, and also the fear of running their reputation.

During the McCarthy period, innocent people were killed because they were thought to be communists. Communism was not understood by many people in the 1940’s and 1950s and was not liked. People were discriminated against for having different views, that is, if you showed the slightest difference of opinion, you were a communist. At that time, communists were something horrid and people feared them, and so they started killing them. Innocent people were being killed based on no or very little evidence except for the thought or belief that they were a communist. The abstract idea of communism struck terror into everyone and led to many deaths.

Finally, choosing to believe in or accepting and promoting stereotypical views can lead to the cultivation of fear and can create conflict between countries. How some countries manage asylum seekers shows this. Asylum seekers are mainly innocent people trying to seek refuge in countries or places safer than their own. They flee, in fear for their life and the lives of their family, from the conflict, generally war, occurring in their own country. The countries they come from tend to be in Africa, Asia or the Middle-East and are often quite poor. And we, living in a safe, wealthy country, judge these desperate asylum seekers.

We see them as a threat because they are black or have not so fair skin, generally don’t speak English well, and sometimes come from Islamic countries, and we associate them with terrorists and criminals. This strikes fear into our safe haven and we deal with these poor refugees by sending them to an isolated island, turning them away or locking them up. But I ask you, if these asylum seekers were white and came from the UK, America or Canada, would we still see them as a threat? Would we still be afraid of them? Well, no we wouldn’t, because they’re white, are most likely able to speak English and come from generally wealthy countries, and so we don’t associate them with criminals or terrorists – the prejudice here is obvious.

Some may disagree and state that ignorance or the desire for power is what fuels conflict, but they are misled, as fear lies within both of these. It is a person’s ignorance that frightens them, for the lack of understanding for something can be seen as a threat. And it is fear and doubt that causes violent or regretful actions to be made.

Not everyone may be afraid during conflict, but fear is the main fuel for conflict which can escalate into violence and the loss of innocent lives. Keeping people uneducated and imposing fear and violence can aid in controlling them, their thoughts and their actions. The unknown or a person’s lack of understanding can create fear. And the choice to follow stereotypical views can be turned into fear and generate conflict. Fear is very powerful and conflicts are based heavily on it. Where there is conflict, there is fear.  

“Fear is the Key” is an expression that suggests that this idea can lead to conflict or be at the heart of conflict. Many wars, fights and dreadful events in our history have begun because one group has been afraid and untrusting of what another may or may not do. Fear is a great way of controlling people and keeping them ‘in the dark’. I am Malala Yousafzai and I am going to address you about my experience of the conflict of which I was the victim. Fear generates conflict which leads to violence and harming of innocent people. My first point will explore how fear and violence can be used to control people and keep them uneducated. Second, I will look at fear is created by the unknown or a lack of understanding for something. And my third and final point will consider how accepting and supporting stereotypical views can lead to the cultivation of fear, producing conflict.  

First and foremost, imposing fear and violence to control people and keep them uneducated or ignorant makes it easier to control what they think and do. I was ten when the Taliban came to our valley of Swat. I loved going to school and being educated yet the Taliban were against this as they believe that the men should go to work, earn wages, come home, eat and sleep, and the women are responsible for giving birth and looking after everyone all day long. This meant that they clean our clothes, shop for us, cook and teach us how to behave. Power lay with the man, and the woman was just a domestic slave, illiterate, obedient and loyal. The Taliban brought with them a new regime and forced it upon us by creating horror and fear. They introduced curfews, burnt our CDs and TVs, and ruled that women weren’t allowed to go outside unless there was an emergency and if so they must wear a veil, but worst of all, they ruled that girls weren’t allowed to go to school and get an education.

The Taliban had taken over Swat with their machine guns, bombs, threats and violence. We didn’t feel safe anymore and fear filled our everyday lives. Any small disturbance or noise could be a bomb or gunfire. There wasn’t a day that went by without at least one Pakistani being killed, and dead bodies would be dumped in the square with death threats attached to them for everybody to see. They started bombing schools and accusing innocent girls who were being educated of doing shameful or undermining things. My friends, who also loved school, and I were horrified. We were scared to wear our school uniforms because the Taliban might throw acid in our faces like they had done to other girls in Afghanistan. We didn’t understand why they didn’t want girls to go to school. How dare Taliban take away my basic right to education? But when I asked my father he said that they were scared of the pen. I had not fully understood what this meant until I started writing an online diary and doing interviews, expressing my views on the Taliban and girls’ rights to an education.

The pen and the words that come from it can be much more powerful than machine guns, tanks or helicopters. I was one of the few people, along with my father, who openly stood up against the Taliban and I realised that I had become the pen and the words. I had become a threat to the Taliban and their regime and they feared me, because I brought hope and promised peace to women and the valley of Swat. Despite my efforts, the Taliban had successfully brought fear to Swat, and my father and I were receiving threats from them and warnings from our friends and family who were scared for our lives. I became terrified; I couldn’t sleep and I would double check the locks every night.

 

On the day I was shot, I was on the bus with my friends going home from school. We suddenly, stopped and a man wearing a peaked cap and who looked like a college student swung himself onto the tailboard at the back of the bus and leaned in right over us. “Who is Malala?” he demanded. I was the only girl with my face uncovered, and several of the girls looked at me, but no one said anything. That’s when the man lifted up a Colt 45 and fired three shots. One went through my left eye socket and out under my left shoulder. I slumped forward onto my friend, blood pouring out of my left ear, so the other two bullets hit the girls next to me. One went into the left hand of the girl next to me and the other went through her left shoulder and into the upper right arm of the girl next to her. My friends later told me that the gunman’s hands had been shaking, he had been afraid.

Secondly, fear can be generated from the unknown or a person’s lack of understanding. Some of you may be scared of the dark, not just because it’s the dark but because of the unknown hiding within. Whether we can prove that there really is something there, we’re still scared and act as if there is. Similarly, in Arthur Miller’s play ‘The Crucible’, based on the Salem Witch Hunts in the 1960s and the McCarthy period in the 1940s and 1950s, Miller recreates a horrid time in history where people were killed by others who were afraid of the unknown. As I am a bookworm, I explored the relationship between ‘The Crucible’ and the McCarthyism.

The play explores witchcraft, an invisible force that frightens people simply because they cannot see it and don’t understand it. The hysteria caused a lot of different conflicts to arise as people were being falsely accused and hanged. People feared the witches and feared being accused, and it was this fear that created more accusations to be made and more deaths to take place. The court hanged people on barely any or no evidence at all, but because of the court’s lack of understanding of witchcraft and therefore their inability to prove the accusations to be wrong, and also the fear of running their reputation.

During the McCarthy period, innocent people were killed because they were thought to be communists. Communism was not understood by many people in the 1940’s and 1950s and was not liked. People were discriminated against for having different views, that is, if you showed the slightest difference of opinion, you were a communist. At that time, communists were something horrid and people feared them, and so they started killing them. Innocent people were being killed based on no or very little evidence except for the thought or belief that they were a communist. The abstract idea of communism struck terror into everyone and led to many deaths.

Finally, choosing to believe in or accepting and promoting stereotypical views can lead to the cultivation of fear and can create conflict between countries. How some countries manage asylum seekers shows this. Asylum seekers are mainly innocent people trying to seek refuge in countries or places safer than their own. They flee, in fear for their life and the lives of their family, from the conflict, generally war, occurring in their own country. The countries they come from tend to be in Africa, Asia or the Middle-East and are often quite poor. And we, living in a safe, wealthy country, judge these desperate asylum seekers.

We see them as a threat because they are black or have not so fair skin, generally don’t speak English well, and sometimes come from Islamic countries, and we associate them with terrorists and criminals. This strikes fear into our safe haven and we deal with these poor refugees by sending them to an isolated island, turning them away or locking them up. But I ask you, if these asylum seekers were white and came from the UK, America or Canada, would we still see them as a threat? Would we still be afraid of them? Well, no we wouldn’t, because they’re white, are most likely able to speak English and come from generally wealthy countries, and so we don’t associate them with criminals or terrorists – the prejudice here is obvious.

Some may disagree and state that ignorance or the desire for power is what fuels conflict, but they are misled, as fear lies within both of these. It is a person’s ignorance that frightens them, for the lack of understanding for something can be seen as a threat. And it is fear and doubt that causes violent or regretful actions to be made.

Not everyone may be afraid during conflict, but fear is the main fuel for conflict which can escalate into violence and the loss of innocent lives. Keeping people uneducated and imposing fear and violence can aid in controlling them, their thoughts and their actions. The unknown or a person’s lack of understanding can create fear. And the choice to follow stereotypical views can be turned into fear and generate conflict. Fear is very powerful and conflicts are based heavily on it. Where there is conflict, there is fear.