>Welcome to Tornado Season

>Thoughts on my Greatest Personal Fear

We had our first Tornado warning of the year on Wednesday. According to the Government of Canada peak Tornado season in Southern Ontario are the months of June and July.

When I was a child I was deathly afraid of tornados. The thought that a storm could become so violent that it would whip the wind into a rotating funnel capable of uprooting trees, lifting houses off their foundations and tossing full sized pickup trucks around like toys was terrifying to me.

It all started when I was 8 years old. I grew up in a region of Ontario that the government had dubbed “tornado alley.” Every spring we would have to sit through a slide show and learn drills on what to do should a violent storm hit. It didn’t matter that the so called tornado alley usually only spawned one or two major storms a year or that the actual risk of injury was statistically insignificant (about the same as getting struck by lightning), what mattered, as one of my teachers put it, was that we had a healthy amount of “respect” for the weather.

The result for an 8 year old with a vivid imagination wasn’t a healthy amount of respect, it was complete terror. To this day I have never been able to sit through the opening sequence of the Wizard of Oz without first checking on the weather network.

One year, at the urging of one of my more intuitive teachers, I completed a science project on tornados. You see this teacher knew the key to overcoming fear was knowledge. I did my home-work; I learned everything there was to know about tornados, how they form, how they behave, how to predict them and how to react to them. Through it all a funny thing happened, my fear dissipated considerably.

You see, our imagination is far more powerful than we realize. We are constantly coming up with outrageous scenarios that start with “what if” or “what about”. The whole purpose of those types of questions is to paralyse us with fear and prevent us from taking appropriate action. The truly sinister thing is that businesses and government know this and they want us to be afraid, fearful people are easier to manipulate.

Advertisers play to our fears every day by emphasising the negative result and then hold out a ready-made solution. The entire modern advertising industry is based on fear and politicians are experts at manipulating it. MIT professor Noam Chomsky called the whole phenomenon “Manufacturing Consent.”

Every year, at the start of tornado season I remember my fears but I also remember what they have taught me. They taught me that knowledge is the key to conquering fear and how to recognize when fear is irrational. The only way to get over our fears is to confront them rationally. In doing so we can recognize them for what they are and react appropriately.

So now ask yourself a few questions;

1- What are you most afraid of?
2- When did you first realize you were afraid?
3- Was it something you came by naturally, or where you taught?
4- Who taught you to be afraid?
5- What was their motivation?
6- How did you react?
7- Have you done your home-work?

Remember what Franklin D Roosevelt said at the height of the great depression. “The Only Thing We have to Fear, is Fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” I especially like the last half of that quote, most people stop with the first half but it’s important to note that the biggest problem with fear is that it paralyzes us and when that happens the battle is already lost.

The politics of fear and manipulation is a real spicy meatball. I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of something big here. This might take a while to dig through and honestly I have no idea where I might end up, stick around, we’ll figure it out together.


  1. >My greatest fear is losing my cognitive abilities, followed by losing physical abilities and being trapped in my own body. Through 30 years of health care experience, I have seen the many ugly ways one can die. Death does not frighten me, but certain kinds of dying do.I was not taught to fear these things by any one person. Being a witness to things no one ever imagines for themselves, taught me to fear dementia or having a severe stroke and not being able ti interact with the world even my thinking is intact.One can overcome petty fears such as spiders, heights, flying or even tornadoes, but none of us can face my two fears until they are already there.

  2. >Tornado?!?!? I tell you what: Next time we have a cat 4 hurricane coming my way, you are invited to come here and ride it out with me. I am what some would call an adrenaline junkie. I have jumped out of airplanes, drove 150mph in a car (on a racetrack), but there is nothing I have experienced that compares to riding out a hurricane. I never knew "fear of God" until I saw 145mph winds firsthand outdoors. Think tornado that lasts 36 hours or longer. The worst ones were Irene, Andrew, Ivan and the infamous Katrina. We get them every few years here. Do I fear them.. absolutely. The Bible says to know thy enemy. Am I prepared? Do you have to ask? Again, I know my enemy. Would I ever evacuate from an impending hurricane? Not on your life..I live far from any potential flood or storm surge potential. We have a saying here: Run from water, duck from wind. There is a part of me that hopes we get one this year. Early season weather and animal activities here are the most "promising" I have ever seen. Then, there is another part of me that knows and dreads the destruction and aftermath of a big one.

  3. >Dea Lauren,It is very difficult to find an intellectural sommunication partner in a global venue of constant crisis. In a world where the gift of the power to reason is traded for the delusion of materialistic security and the entity of social responsibility is traded in for the facade of physiological cosmetic beauty; it becmes very easy to manipulate and exploit the veiled majority. Fear can germinate well in an environmentof of emptiness. The capacity for greatness which lay within each indiidual has been replaced with the statement, "Would you like fries with that order?" Sincerely,Maryam Ruhullah

  4. >Growing up, I lived near Memphis, Tennessee, which is inside tornado alley for the US. I can't remember being afraid of them to the level of being terrified, but I certainly had a healthy respect for them. Oddly enough, there is not much which truly terrified me as a kid, or even now. Lightning was probably the most significant on my mind, with its unpredictability, intense light, and booming thunder. I would sometimes have nightmares involving close by lightning strikes. However, it was not to the point that I cowered from storms.However, I will say that Kurious definitely mentioned fears – a the concern level – which I have.Sorry to put a religious slant on this secular post, but it occurred to me that the doctrine of Christianity utilizes one of the ultimate fear tactics. Worship God, or else suffer a painful eternity in Hell. Plus, invisible demon forces are constantly working against us to destine us for Hell, so God is our only hope for protection. Pretty scary stuff, no?

  5. >Wise FoolChristianity as a religion is not immune to scare tactics. One of my main thesis points which crops up on this blog from time to time is that following the teachings of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels is not a religion at all. The first thing I tell people who are exploring Christianity is that Jesus came to earth to; "show us the way, set up his kingdom and SHUT DOWN religion." I personally resist the label of "christian" on myself for that reason prefering to be called a Christ Follower.

  6. >@ Andrew: High five on the hurricanes! Lots of family spanning the Gulf from Houston to Tampa. We have seen our share. But I've been witness to two tornados as well and I have to say, though they are shorter lived and don't have the duration of their big brothers, I'll take a hurricane. The concentrated and completely unpredictable violence of tornados makes them the boogey men of weather phenomenons. Your house might be fine and the next door neighbor's is totally gone.@ Lauren: I agree with your take on religion and fear. People often confuse Christianity with the Church. In theory, they should dovetail. In practice, the Church (in all its manifestations) has been a political instrument and as such has used fear to increase its power. Any faith should be explored at its roots, the teachings and scriptures that give it life, rather than the machinations of the structures that use it for power.Thanks for sending me a heads up about your cool blog! Cheers,Laurel

  7. >I did not intend to "one up" you. I apologize if that is how it came across. If you lived in hurricane country, you would understand. If I lived on the great plains, I would be one of those nutty tornado chasers. However, we get tornadoes in hurricanes. They are smaller in size than yours, and move with the winds of the hurricane that produce them. I've seen lots of them. My biggest fear (which I have discussed in my blog (regarding this year) is a "black hurricane" or "oilzilla". When a hurricane is over the ocean, it's winds actually pull salt water, pollen and anything else on the ocean surface into the clouds. Then that falls as salty rain far away from it's origin, and inland from where the storm comes ashore. The big 4 that hit my area brought in all sorts of S.American and Caribbean plant life. Eradicating it has proven impossible and there was something in there that I am allergic to. When "acid rain" was such a problem here in the US, the basic salt water hurricanes deposited up the eastern seaboard by passing and landfalling hurricanes was beneficial. If a major large sized hurricane moved over the deepwater horizon oil slick, it would pick up the oil sheen/dispersant with the salt water and then dump it as an oily briny rain for hundreds of miles inland, killing crops, animals, and ruining a huge area of land for many years. Since America feeds the world (more or less) the result could be a global famineSo, I hope this clears up any misunderstandings about my first comment. I was about 8 when I experienced my first hurricane. It was terrifying, but it sparked an interest I still have to this day. I am writing this on my phone while tracking "Alex" on the computer. I have lived in Tennessee too, which is in Tornado Alley. I've seen what they do, and would in no way laugh at somebody's fear of them. It was fear that sparked my interest of this subject.

  8. >I must admit I am perplexed by your response Lauren. It appears as though your position is that Jesus did not bring religion and that Christian religion is responsible for the scare tactics.As a Christ Follower who follows the gospel teachings, surely you know that Jesus is portrayed as the original source of the scare tactics, and had quite a bit to say about Hell and the coming judgement, such as Matthew 13:41-42:"The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will weed out of His Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." NIVWhether or not Jesus meant to propagate a religion, I do not think it can be denied that Jesus propagated the concept of an eternal punishment. Through the "Great Commission," He wanted everyone to know about it.

  9. >Exactly . My position is that Jesus came to shut down the Jewish religion, not start a new one. The Christian religion as we know it did not exist until at least 300 AD, with the conversion of Constantine. That's when a fringe movement who had up to that point been litterally outlawed was fused with a political power and the whole game changed forever. As for your quote, it's out of context. You can't just quote the explanation of a parable without quoting the parable itself. "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared." Matthew 13:24-26, read the whole thing verses 24-30 if you like.This is not a salvation story. There is no indication that the weeds ever have a chance to save themselves by becoming wheat, or that the wheat is ever in danger of becoming weeds. The workers (angels) ask if they should remove the weeds and are told that it would cause damage to the wheat so instead they allow both to grow side by side until the harvest when they are separated. This is an explanation of why evil is allowed to remain in the world. Nothing more. Anyone who tries to use it as a scare tactic to keep people in line simply didn't read the whole thing. As for the Great Commission, Jesus is simply telling his followers to teach people his ways. That's not religion that's decipleship, there is a huge difference.

  10. >Whoa, I think you jumped the gun a little bit there Lauren. I was not trying to provide a detailed, flawless, debate-style response. It is only a comment, so please take it that way.I was only making the point that Jesus spoke "had quite a bit to say about Hell and the coming judgement…" and the addition of "such as" meant it was going to be just one example.Quoting out of context, as I did, does not change the message that I was trying to convey: that Jesus says a time of judgement is coming and that people will be put in an eternal Hell. This was consistent with my comment.Whether or not there is salvation does not change that meaning, nor does having the rest of the context. Pick your battles wisely.If you would like me to point out in full detail how often Jesus spoke about Hell – to the point of it being a true scare tactic – just let me know. You could probably suffice yourself to search on "weeping and gnashing of teeth," or "worm dieth not," or perhaps consult your favorite sermon from Matthew 5:29-30:"If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell."However, I suspect that further debate on the matter is unnecessary for you, given that you are well versed in the scripture. Cheers!

  11. >You're right. Further debate on this subject is likely pointless as you are clerely fond of taking things out of context and confusing mediphor with literal commands.

  12. >You know, the funny thing about context is that any quote you provide is out of context. Quote a few words, it's out of the context of a sentence. Quote a couple sentences, it's out of the context of a paragraph. Quote a couple paragraphs, it's out of context with the chapter. You could even quote an entire book, yet it would still be out of context with the time and circumstances in which it was written.Anyway, I'm sorry I get so confused. Take care.

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