Fear, Terror and V
There is a scene in the movie “V for Vendetta” when Evey (played by Natalie Portman) is facing her own death by firing squad. Her guard says in a soft voice something like “All they want is a little bit of information. Just give then something.” She responds: “Thank you, but I'd rather die behind the chemical sheds.” She says it in a calm way, not upset, simply stating the truth. The guard says, “You no longer have fear. You are now totally free.” He walks away, with the prison door open.
[WARNING: REALLY BIG SPOILER]
The guard did not work for the government but was V himself, and he tortured Evey as a way to set her free. When Evey realized it was V who had done this, she of course became enraged. V however tells her that her experience of freedom cannot be altered by the fact that he was the torturer. He invites her to recapture the feeling she had a few minutes before. She takes a deep breath and returns to the moment of freedom. She spreads her arms in the rain and feels the freedom.
When she lost all fear, she became free. This had been his experience as well, after surviving the genetic experiments he was subjected to at St. Mary’s. What he did with his new-found freedom was to plan and execute a detailed and ingenious plan to create a revolution. In the process he not only tortured the woman he had learned to love, he also murdered countless people. He was defined as a terrorist. He stated: “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” He was willing to create havoc and uncountable suffering in order to unmask the terror of the government. He wore a mask, yet he was in the unmasking business. In efffect, he was “anti-terror” or “anti-fear.”
Since it is a movie, and a surreal one at that, it is not difficult to see these images and interpret them as metaphors. I can experience the movie as I might a dream, seeing it as symbolic of something internal within me, within us human beings. It of course comes down to the issue of fear. It is interesting to me that Bush doesn’t talk about terrorism; instead he talks about terror. I speak the obvious here, but what is terror except extreme fear? Our government is in the business of fear. Since 9/11, Bush has been systematically promoting fear, exploiting fear, creating it where it isn’t evident, cajoling it, molding it to serve his purposes. He wants us to be afraid, deathly afraid, deathly terrorized by terror. He is in effect turning FDR’s statement on its head. He is saying we only have fear to fear. We must fear fear or we are cowards. And we must fight fear with guns and bombs. This is so strange.
I have had a recent experience which I have found to be real and meaningful to me. During this experience, I discovered that it is possible to be without fear even when surrounded by others who are afraid. When I am without fear, I am a powerful being.