Philippe Collard

5 years ago · 6 min. reading time · visibility ~10 ·

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The “new” age of fear and why I am not afraid!

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These days, if you watch TV, listen to the radio, get your news from the Web or listen to the current crop of “law and order” politicians, you would think that western "civilization" (whatever that means) is coming to an end very soon. Heck, terrorists are everywhere (don’t I see one in my own backyard now!), crime is on the rise, we are invaded by hordes of “others” the like we have not seen since Attila the Hun, the economy is tanking thanks in no small part to China, Mexico and other “foreign” places that are out to get us and the Middle East is a hell hole filled with “others” (again) who hate us.

We should be afraid! VERY AFRAID.

Really?

I was born in France in 1954. That is only 9 years after WWII devastated Europe and most of the world, causing over 60 million death in the span of 6 years. I am a baby boomer. As in “nuclear boom” because people of my generation lived for 40 years under the very real menace of nuclear annihilation. We came darn close to that doomsday event during the Cuban Missiles Crisis (google it). As a youngster, I watched on TV every October, the broadcast of the parade of nuclear missiles on Red Square (Moscow, google it!), missiles we all knew were aimed at us, no questions asked.

I grew up during the times France (my mother country) was trying to shed its colonial past. It was not an easy task. Those who resisted that transition used terrorism (see, not an entirely new concept). Our little black and white TV was filed almost daily with the bombings and shootings that took place then.

Society was coming to grips with what was then, and still should be, called the “consumerism society”. 1968 was a banner year for violence and revolt around the world. There were wars. Threats of wars. Google “Red Brigades”, the “Red Army Faction”, “Black September”. During the 1972 Olympic Games, 11 Israeli athletes were killed by Palestinian terrorists. Planes were hijacked. People died, as always, because we, the human race, have yet to use what we arrogantly call “intelligence” for the sole purpose of doing good. Vietnam: over 1.3M deaths. Cambodia, anywhere between 1.5M to 3M (hey who is counting). Africa, Bangladesh, so many other places torn by rage, fury and ideology.

As for the economy, it certainly rocked and rolled. I don’t know if many of you understand what a 12% inflation rate means of feels. I do! The “oil embargo” caused the rationing of electricity (just think about that for one minute). White people started, already, to resent the fact their jobs were taking away by “others”, jobs of course they did not want to do and still don’t. Racism was latent, if not in full display. It took some brave men (Congressman John Lewis, you are one of my hero!) to make sure certain provisions of the US Constitution stating that “all men are created equal” were not simply empty words on a piece of ancient paper.

Sometimes it got better. And sometimes worse. I left France in 1983 for my “American dream”. But it was not before I witnessed terror attacks in Paris where I then lived. On July 5th 1983, I landed in Los Angeles, with $2,500 and two suitcases. Los Angeles, my home! My country. And I became a US citizen in January 1993. I love my adopted country. I love it with all my heart. It welcomed me like millions before me. Gave me opportunities, some that I seized and others that I screwed up. Such is life.

Here is a side note. I love France. She is my “mother” country. I love the USA. She is my “wife” country. No immigrant should ever be asked to choose between their wife and their mother.

Back to fear. Indeed, there has been a lot reasons to fear throughout the past 61 years of my life. Most of which I had no control over. But I had been given some sort of “magic wand” against fear by my father.

I am the son of a hero of the French Resistance. My grandfather was the head of a Resistance network in Normandy. He recruited his 14 years old son (my father) to fight the Nazis. Both were eventually captured and tortured. My grand dad was executed by the Nazis and my dad only escaped Buchenwald by chance. My father made sure I understood what had happened during WWII and why. But he taught me FOUR incredible lessons that, to this day, have guided my life:

1 – Do not hate. He and many others in Europe after WWII had a decision to make: are we going to continue slaughtering each other’s for decades to come or have we had enough? No, he told me. "Hate stops with me".

2 – Do not fear. Anything, anytime or anywhere. Your time on this earth is short. If you succumb to fear, you will never make the most of your life.

I grew up in a very poor neighborhood of post WWII and post colonization France. My parents had a lot of friends from many refugee communities, Moroccan Jews, Muslims Algerians. I enjoyed being with these exuberant families, their exotic cuisine, and new customs, their laughs and love of life. But, at school, other children were asking why I was so often with “bougnoules” or “ratons” (google these words). I remember I once came back home from school in tears, after having been harassed and singled out for who I was playing with in the street. And my father gave me his third life lesson:

3 - Do not, ever, let ignorant, bigoted bullies rule your life.

None of my father’s lessons are easy to follow. That being said, whenever my soul or resolve falter, I remember his words, his example. I have tried to live my life by his teachings. I never nearly escaped the firing squad (as he did), or ever been tortured (as he was). So when I feel a bit weaker, I just remember who he was, what he did and what he told me.

Which brings me back to today.

The world is no better or worse than it has been forever. Unfortunately. But if you want reasons to really fear, I will give you some.

Every year, nearly 10,000 people die in the US in car crashes caused by alcohol. That is 27 people per day! And nearly 10,000 people die in gun related homicides in the same US. By contrast, for the past 15 years, 50 people have died every year at the hands of terrorists (of all stripes). As a matter of fact, since 2001, over 400,000 people have died of gun violence (homicides) in the US versus 3,400 in terrorists acts (and that includes 9/11). Heck, every single year, 100 people die of horse riding accidents (mostly caused because they do not wear helmets!). Horses are twice lilely to cause your death than terrorists!

Breaking news: you have a 2000% “chance” (check google to really understand what it means) of being killed by a drunk driver than by a terrorist!

If you want to be really scared, then just imagine that you could be a little 10 years old girl in Darfur. Or a little boy in one of the sweat shops in South East Asia working to provide you the next branded gear you will buy cheap without thinking about how it was made. Have you ever thought what the food you eat is made of? How can a country that counts a 30% rate of obesity not be scared of what shitty food and drinks does to its new generations? That, for me, is really scary.

Which brings me to the media.

It used to be that “news” were just that: whatever happened that day that was worth reporting. All that has changed. “News” is now a “consumer good” influencing rating and thus profits. It is more profitable to scare the shit out of people because some nutcase rammed a truck through the streets of Nice than to report, day in and day out, that thousands of Africans died of starvation. It is more profitable to promote a “candidate” who vomits racists, and bigoted statements on a daily basis than to question said candidate on real issues. The “new” media has transformed our planet into a gigantic reality show. “Breaking news”….stand by, we are going to bring you the last body count”.

Shame on you! And shame on us!

Which brings me back to fear.

We are born with a very limited “fuse” that starts burning the minute we come out of our mother’s womb. Our very fragile existence will be challenged, in many ways, until one day we just have to check out. That is the way it is. We don’t know how. We don’t know when. But it will happen.

I am student of history. Back in the 1930s’, “law and order” politicians promised to restore national pride, singled out minorities, and declared that everything was going to be “amazing”. Their names were Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and a few others…

They prayed on fear. The fear they created. We know how it all ended up!

I have news for the Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen and other fascists of the world. I am not afraid. Never have been. Never will be. I also have a message for you: I know what you want to do. You want to enslave good folks. Make them support policies that are clearly against their own interest. You want these folks to believe that their problems are caused by “others”, because it is so easy to blame “others” when you don’t realize your own institutions are creating the conditions for your dire predicament.

I have another message for the neo fascists: you will not be able to prevail. There has always been enough of us that are not afraid of anything and who will rise against your new form of totalitarism. I am the son and the grandson of patriots who fought against tyranny. I am ready to do my part.

It will not happened. Not now. Not here. Not ever.

This my father’s FOURTH lesson: when you see that basic freedom, human rights and decency, are going to be trumped (literally speaking), you need to rise, you need to fight, and do whatever it takes to make sure it won’t happen.

Donald Trump, you cannot scare me. Nothing can. I have no fear. We have seen the likes of you before. We simply cannot go back to those dark days. And I want you to think about this (if your modest intellect allow you to): no autocratic regime has ever survived. The reason is very simple: love and freedom trump hate.

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Comments

Philippe Collard

5 years ago #35

#56
Todd Jones, propaganda....people need to re-discover the meaning and evil power of propagand. #2,864,974...that's the number of reasons Trump will never be a legitimate POTUS! Pass it along

Randy Keho

5 years ago #34

I don't fear the Big Picture, either. You've summed it up quite nicely, Mr. Pollard. I recall, as a youthful student, being instructed to" duck and cover" under my desk, as if that was going to save me from a nuclear attack, and the barrels and barrels of imperishable food stores in the school basement. However, I do fear the wolf at my door, literally. Macro-fears are nothing compared to micro-fears. That's where the rubber meets the road. The police have been effectively intimidated into disarming themselves for fear of offending "Whatever Lives Happen to Matter" that day. Mob mentality, with or without justification, is ruling the streets. That's the fear we face today -- not Donald Trump.

David B. Grinberg

5 years ago #33

Thanks for this exemplary buzz-worthy post, Philippe Collard. In addition to all of your powerful points, I would also note the timeless words of the longest serving U.S. President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), who famously said: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #32

#49
I don't think you should be so hard on yourself, Don Kerr, concerning your age.

Philippe Collard

5 years ago #31

#49
Wow. Sounds like an awesome group to me.!!!

don kerr

5 years ago #30

#48
I may get expelled for this as my fellow beezers are pretty secretive but: Phil Friedman and I met in person a few weeks ago. We didn't kill each other. We found we had common interests and moods. We all love the written word and provocation and meaningful substantial conversation with significant lashings of wit, humour and the occasional dollop of outrage. We decided others might enjoy (or not) engaging with the three old farts and one guy from an exclusive private school. The Beezers were born.

Philippe Collard

5 years ago #29

#41
Will someone explain to me, please, pretty please, with sugar on top, what is a "beezer"....come on!

don kerr

5 years ago #28

#41
well that is just a little mean;)

Nick Mlatchkov

5 years ago #27

#38
'texting drivers' From the witness' stand: I saw one the other nite!

Nick Mlatchkov

5 years ago #26

#38
'texting drivers'

Nick Mlatchkov

5 years ago #25

#38
'texting drivers'

Nick Mlatchkov

5 years ago #24

#38
the "Devil's Babysitter" lol

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #23

#41
But, you are developing quite the Constructive Contrarian attitude (thanks Graham Edwards sports an almost "Donald"-like coiffure, but every photo show him wearing a hat (and a mask).

Dean Owen

5 years ago #22

#39
I don't qualify to be a beezer yet still have a full head of hair! :)

Nick Mlatchkov

5 years ago #21

Franco survived for nearly 40 yrs, dying of natural causes ....

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #20

#37
A Beezer is a good thing Philippe Collard explain.

Philippe Collard

5 years ago #19

Jim Murray what is a "beezer"...

Nick Mlatchkov

5 years ago #18

@John marrett - 'It seems I cannot reply to my own comment...' Of course, the opposite would be grotesque ...

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #17

I'm with Jim Murray... you have certainly completed a successful application to become an honourary Beezer. Thank you for a balanced (in my opinion) piece pointing out a reality that many of us today have never had to address. We visit Europe now and only see the beauty, not the horror they lived through when fear and terror reigned. Your father was a wise man. Thank you for sharing.

Dean Owen

5 years ago #16

#32
Totally agree Philippe Collard. You clearly understand what is going on here. There is no way China could have come this far in so short a time under democracy. Strong central govt, so long as it is the right one, works (as we have seen in the Singapore miracle too). Fortunately we have a strong central govt with good intent, clamping down on corruption, enacting policies that benefit the majority, playing a tough game of chasing growth without risking bubble scenarios. I am a big fan of the Chinese govt right now, but not a big fan of corporate governance, but that will come in the next generation. This generation of business leaders grew up in an "eat or be eaten" world. They are greedy to the extreme, and seek profit at any cost. The next generation of business leaders, as I mentioned earlier, will be US and UK college educated. Good things will happen.

Philippe Collard

5 years ago #15

#28
Dean Owen As I said, I spent a month in China three years ago. At the time, I experience "visible" polution. As a matter of fact, just before one of my trips the Shanghai airport was shut down because apron controllers could not see the planes on the tarmak. I also experience polution myself that would simply freak out most people living in US cities (I moved to L.A. in 1983 and it was a problem then but clearly not as bad as what I saw in China). That was three years ago. I cannot attest to what it is today. I also understand that China has recognized that this level of polution is unsustainable and will make large investments in clearning up the air and the land. Actually, if I was to make a prediction, I would say that China will lead in that area for the next 20 years because when they decide to address a problem, they put a lot of "wood behind an arrow". I can also attest to the modern infrastructure. For instance, I absolutely love the high speed train. Clean, super efficient, brand new stations. Same for airports. That being said, as you pointed out, all this came at a cost and polution was once such cost. Hopefully, it will get better. That's all.

Dean Owen

5 years ago #14

#29
Of course quality control is an issue, as it was with Korean products 20 years ago, and Japanese products 40 years ago. It is so competitive here, manufacturers compete on price. This will change, as it did in Japan, and Korea. The Chinese cars when I first arrived here in 2008 were rubbish. They are getting better. It is an incredible story we are witnessing. I have never seen anything like it. And as the next generation of business leaders get educated in top US and European schools, you can bet China will not be the laughing stock for long.

Dean Owen

5 years ago #13

#26
Any country building super cities, super highways, super rail networks, super bridges and super infrastructure on a scale that China is doing will inevitably have problems. China is working through those problems responsibly. It is easy to criticise from afar, but live here and you will be impressed at what China is achieving. By 2030, infrastructure in the States will look archaic when compared to China. The highway network here is already the best in the world. I have the fastest train in the world leaving from a station just 5 km from me. I live in a super modern part of Shanghai that was farmland just over 10 years ago. All of this done in a decade. Yes the cities here do have bad days of pollution, but nobody reports the majority good days. I have photo albums of gorgeous but skies all over China, even in Beijing. The Chinese govt are doing an amazing job, period. Feel free to think China is a mess though....

Dean Owen

5 years ago #12

#24
I live in China, eat food produced in China, am looking out my balcony at a beautiful blue sky summer day in the metropolis of Shanghai. The Beijing Olympics was in 2008 at the start of a tremendous growth cycle. The Chinese authorities are managing the situation extremely well, and as far as the environment is concerned, China is setting an unprecedented example. It is a tough situation to manage, balancing growth and urbanisation with environmental concerns, but China is doing extremely well. Any country at this stage in the development cycle has a history of pollution. Chinese carmaker BYD (in which Warren Buffet has a stake) has been making electric cars for years now, and plan to sell 1 million by 2020. Europe and the US are buying solar cells from China. There are numerous tree planting schemes all across China. It is early days yet, still a lot to do, but China is doing it!

Philippe Collard

5 years ago #11

#19
Indeed Beijing and Shanghai are 1000 times worse. During one week over there I did not see the sun for the duration of my stay. There was a yellow (and smelly) veil over the city. And when I say you do not see the other side of the street, I mean it. I can send you pictures...but what is even more disturbing is that the country side is poluted as well. I took the high speed train between Beijing and Shanghai several times. 1500km. And this whole strech of country is also bathed in polution. So much so that an area of the size of France has been declared unfit for food production!

Philippe Collard

5 years ago #10

#16
You are so right. Remember the Ebola "scare" a couple of years ago. Meanwhile, back in Flint, it was very OK to let people drink water with a high content of lead. That disaster was ENTIRELY manufactured by those in power who were trying to save a few bucks. No mosquitos involved. And the same type of folks will tell you that "coal is clean". I spent a month in China (Beijing+Shanghai) 3 years ago. There you can SEE (literally) polution. Because on a bad day, you cannot see the other side of the street! And all that from coal polution. That is very scary to me. About the mosquitos, what are you going to do: spray the whole country with DDT?

Philippe Collard

5 years ago #9

Jim Murray Guys, I am now a Bee. You were right. It is the place for me. Thanks for encouraging me. On Linkedin, I write about business in general. Here I will write about other topics that are dear to my heart. Love you guys, kiss kiss...oh my :-0 :-)

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #8

#11
@Phiippe Collard - I cannot speak for Jim Murray -- OMG, who in the world could! -- but for myself a simple acknowledgement of my comment(s) is sufficient. If there are a lot of short comments, most times I think a simple like on the comment does the job. For longer comments a brief answer that indicates you actually read the comment keeps, I think, people feeling good about participating in the conversation. As in all matters, I believe a little bit of respect goes a long way. Of course, there are times when I am moved just to karate chop someone in the throat, er, I mean the keyboard. :-)

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #7

#9
Good point, @John Marrett. The principle of peaceful transition of power depends on political candidates rising to the responsibilities of, and respecting theoffice, and not making it solely about themselves. It is clear from everything Trump says that it is about HIM and not about the nation or the office.

Philippe Collard

5 years ago #6

Thank you all for first reading this article. And you comments. I do appreciate them. As you can imagine, I feel strongly about this topic. I am a newbee here so I am not sure how to respond to all. Phil Friedman may be you can be my guide. Lastly, I forgot something which is my equation for humanity: no fear = no hate = tolerance. Again, thank you all!

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #5

@ Philippe Collard - strong sentiments, exceedingly well expressed. Not surprisingly since U.S. and French democracy are intimately intertwined in history. Your reference to your grandfather and father as French Resistance fighters is very powerful, for they were to my mind great heroes in the circumstances. I lost an uncle, whom I never really knew at Normandy. A loss that haunted my mother and maternal grandmother their entire lives. Thank you for your inspiring call to move forward without fear... or at least to overcome fear and move forward anyway. To which I would simply add, use your vote this election to send the message that we will not be cowed, and send the latest fascist upstart packing. Cheers!

mohammed khalaf

5 years ago #4

the fundamental principle of equal opportunity and equal justice for all represents the very essence of the American Dream. This principle is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, which states that all individuals have “unalienable rights” to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness...”

Jim Murray

5 years ago #3

Outstanding piece Philippe Collard...You realize this easily makes you an official Beezer. I really love the perspective you offer in this piece, because when you think about the world over the span of our lives (I'm a little older than you), you really start to see the ebb and flow of events and simple the fact that, in spite of all the bullshit, the world has never really ground to an absolute halt due to it. So thanks for that. I'm working pretty hard intellectually right now to put Trump in his place, so I don't have to be angry about what he's trying (and will eventually fail) to bring about. It's totally regressive for sure. But I am hopeful that the crazier he gets the more his following will shrink. BTW You should check out the very interesting Deepak Chopra just reposted here. It explains a lot about what Trump is. Thanks again. Pieces like your are the reason we created this hive.

don kerr

5 years ago #2

"love and freedom trump hate." Philippe Collard you have created a valuable and relevant lesson based on personal history and the wisdom of your father's experience of living in the crucible. Thanks for this beacon of hopeful discourse. Will share.

Dean Owen

5 years ago #1

One of the best current affairs commentary I have read all year.

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