What one guy learned about fear from balancing financial, emotional, and political stress while becoming a father
Remembering the last days of my wife’s first pregnancy less than five years ago, I wonder if I have outgrown my feelings of combined fear, anxiety, insecurity, and helplessness.
In those times the world was in the second year of a global economical recession, Russia had just begun to regain the power and glory of the Soviet era. European Union skepticism had become the logic of the mainstream lower and middle classes across the continent. For those who understood politics, they saw a turbulent period beginning. Europe has seen turbulence many times before, we knew what was coming. Yes, in times of crisis looming obviously, I was to become a father for a first time.
Every kid knows when you put together the political ingredients:
“recession + Russia + skepticism”,
the European formula starts to look like any other ordinary high school chemistry experiment, the situation is on the brink of explosion. However, I wasn’t a kid anymore. I just waited to have one.
History is the most boring subject for me, but I remember from my school days—whenever our wise ancestors had money problems they started wars. One money problem was the Great Depression (another global economical crisis) before World War II. The imperialistic ambitions of countries without colonies were versed against the status quo policies of the countries who ruled the planet at the end of World War I.
History also teaches us that hunger was terrible in France before The French Revolution, and similar conditions occurred in St. Petersburg just hours before combatants of October’s Revolution put the Bolsheviks in power. Along with crisis, there is always skepticism, and after skepticism comes patriotism, nationalism, fascism, or communism. Here’s a funny thing, we can see that pattern in every history book. We can see how crisis and skeptical ideology in Europe eventually end with Russian steps that leave behind thousands, sometimes millions of deaths across the continent. In a similar climate of critical times, I waited for my wife to bring our first child into the world.
Can you even imagine my stress level when Europeans started hearing the same rhetoric we heard during the cold war era? Hadn’t we escaped from Europe being used as a (battle) field between the USA and Russia? Hadn’t we ended the era of the USA and Russia’s tens of thousands of intercontinental nuclear missiles? Again, we Europeans had forgotten the patterns of history. We were wrong and naive to believe otherwise.
When my first baby finally arrived, the economical depression was intensifying. The unemployment rate had started to rise in almost every corner of the world. Poverty increased, political antagonism become more prudent, and some forgotten anti-Semitic and Nazi theses became the favorite food of the European masses. These were times when real food was becoming less and less on the tables of many European families who were stricken by crisis.
History teaches us that in times of shortages and fear, people turn to politicians who exploit the very same fear and shortages. Past political parties who promised steady and painful recovery have never actually won any elections. No, people choose to follow the politicians who tell the biggest lies to exploit fear. Those political gambits usually end in great disasters for the country in question and for the continent as a whole.
Less than a two years after my first child was born, I fathered another child. All the same tensions of political instability in Europe today are even more tangible, but I no longer have the same feeling of combined fear, anxiety, insecurity, and helplessness. Parenting is cool, but also very stressful in times of crisis and every father must learn the truth:
As our ancestors never learned what to do when money became an issue, present day politicians also don’t seem to have any clue what to do either, so war appears to be the only way.
The key that fatherhood has taught me is not to be afraid, because if you play into the fear, they have won.
No matter who they are!
We talk about the intersectionality of social issues in popular culture all the time. Want more stories like this? Sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter here.Photo: ssoosay/Flickr