Francophobia: Fear of France and Frogs
I have one fear: “Phobophobia” — the fear of phobias…For I fear that buttons will be pushed, nerves will be hit, chords will be struck and you readers will either largely agree or disagree. They call this “Allodoxaphobia” — fear of opinions.
This is not a subject one normally tosses around without knowing there will be some reverberations. Fear has almost 600 names attached to it (according to the phobia list at http://www.phobialist.com/) and we are surely to find at least one of them we can call our own. The ones that make my fearful hairs stand on end are not because I fear, but because they are the fears I hear from readers about Paris, France or the French.
Yes, there is a “Francophobia” — a fear of France or French culture, also known as “Gallophobia” and “Galiophobia.” I hope that most of you have quite the opposite — “Francophilia” — love of France or French culture.
I am addressing the question of fear because you readers regularly send me your fears packaged in questions intended to either support them or quell them. I am not capable of supporting them, but perhaps I can quell or dispel them.
Many Jewish readers have expressed their fears of anti-semitism in France and as one recently wrote, “raging through the country.” I’m not sure what she means by that. True, there have been some incidents in past years which have been of concern to all, but in my ethnically mixed area of Paris, the very center of the city, where religious Jews live very peacefully with Chinese, Gay and citizens of many colors, the only “raging” I have seen are from drivers who can’t get past delivery vehicles. Is her fear the opposite of “Judeophobia”– fear of Jews? or “Angrophobia” — fear of anger?
This week, because of the student unrest in protest to the newly changed labor laws, we’ve seen a new wave of fear from Americans. I’ve been told that “The media here [ U.S.] makes it seem as if Paris is under siege. Hope all of you folks are able to steer clear of any troubled areas.” The student unrest is EVERYWHERE…not only in Paris, but all over France. And why should we fear it? If we were to run from every protest that takes place in France, we’d be living our lives in a bomb shelter. The French LOVE to express themselves openly in the streets…and peacefully. I’ve taken part in many a demonstration myself and yes, there were a few injured, as there might always be in such heated situations. Can we call it “Ochlophobia” — fear of crowds or mobs?
A soon-to-be property owner in the 6th arrondissement wrote, “Now, if the students continue to protest over by the Sorbonne, can we expect to see real estate prices to tumble?” I’m certain this was in jest, or I certainly hope so. Wouldn’t that be shocking if the value of Paris property were so volatile as to descend with the advent of a few vocal students? Can we call that “Orthophobia” — fear of property?
In the past few months, would-be visitors to France have cancelled their plans to travel to France for fear of violent rioting, fear of avian flu, fear of terrorist activity, fear of anti-semitism, and fear of whatever else they choose to fear. Of course, the media fuels the fear fire, sensationalizing the news to increase their ratings. If I see that same car burn one more time I’m going to scream! And what does it accomplish?…perhaps even “Panophobia”/ “Pantophobia” — fear of everything.
In the last few years, I have made a personal effort to transform the condition
of fear to a positive power rather than a debilitating emotion by having taken to heart the teachings of Eckhart Tolle, author of “The Power of Now.” When asked, “If I didn’t have a fear of fire, might I put my hand in it and get burned?” Tolle responds, “The reason why you don’t put your hand in the fire is not because of fear, it’s because you KNOW that you’ll get burned. The psychological condition of fear is divorced from any concrete and true immediate danger. It comes in many forms: unease, worry, anxiety, nervousness, tension, dread, phobia, and so on. This kind of psychological fear is always of something that MIGHT happen, not of something that is happening now.”
From my perspective, knowledge is the key. So, let me put your fears to rest. Paris is the most visited city in the world, despite your fears of it being unsafe. The Paris airport welcomes the most travelers in mainland Europe — 72 million passengers arrive and depart from Paris every year with 26 million visitors to the city annually, 16% of which are Americans. They all seem to be managing just fine and enjoying their stays immensely. The worst you can expect vis a vis personal safety is to be pickpocketed, and you are likely never to even know it happened! (I was pickpocketed once in 1994 and never again since.) I am a single woman living alone. I travel everywhere in Paris on my own at all hours of the day and night with not one single fear of personal safety. In fact, I have never lived so free of fear in my life.
Now, I could understand if you had “Pocrescophobia” — fear of gaining weight (also known as “Obesophobia”) once you’ve tasted French cuisine! Or “Philophobia” — the fear of falling in love or being in love, since you’re bound to fall in love with Paris or the person you’re with in Paris. Or “Venustraphobia” — fear of beautiful women…have you caught a glimpse lately of the stunning female species in France?
And what about “Epistemophobia” — fear of knowledge? That’s the scariest one of all!…Just imagine how frightening it must be to discover that there really isn’t anything to fear at all…except maybe “Ranidaphobia” — the fear of “frogs.”
A la prochaine…
Editor, Parler Paris
Email [email protected]
P.S. For a taste of my home town, check today’s Community Calendar at /parlerparis/calendar.html for performances featuring New Orleans musicians Leah Chase, David Torkanowsky, Evan Christopher, Tom McDermott and the Mark Braud Band. To hear more about New Orleans after Katrina, I’ll be speaking at Patricia Laplante Collins’ Paris Soirées April 2nd with slides and a personal account. To show your support and visit the city while learning how to live and invest in France, visit /frenchproperty/conference/LIF_NOLA_2006/LIF_NOLA_home.html