When all thought was born there was one thought different to all the rest. This thought was born of death and hunger in the midst of scarcity. It was whipped up by the knowledge of what had been taken and by the anxiety of what might yet be lost until it stood as tall as a man. This was Fear.
Fear could fill a person so totally that it rode in them like a puppeteer. Ridden like this, such a person had one intention – to control others. Even when death and hunger came from nature, not people, the intent of Fear was that its puppet would still survive by controlling others. If a storm destroyed all but a little food then others could feed the puppet instead of themselves.
At first Fear was dumb. Fear had no means to control but shouting and violence. This usually served to spread itself into others as well. They would react like puppets themselves until the prevalence of violence and shouting prevented any of the work of survival being done. This was why many people knew that Fear had nothing truly worthwhile to give us – that it was only a pretend or short term friend of survival. Certainly it persisted and reoccurred in pockets but it couldn’t endure for long without tearing its host community apart.
This changed when Fear came to occupy a wise person. This person was clever and in their pain Fear learned from them not to make violence. Instead Fear told stories. They sang songs. They chose a few songs and stories that made others afraid but not too many. That might have spread Fear and led to its host’s destruction. So they mostly told tales that comforted instead, that promised everything wonderful, everything perfect, and everything uncomplicated.
To others it appeared that these songs and stories came from the wise person but the wise person denied this. The wise person themself did not know where these stories and songs came from but they knew they were not their own. “All I know is that I was troubled by that which has destroyed our ancestors and our neighbours” (the wise person meant Fear), “but instead of violence and anger came these stories and songs.”
“God” someone whispered, “They have come from God.”
The intent of Fear had not changed however. Fear still piloted its host in order to control others. Only now it had learnt not to feel like fear at all but like peace. This was the greatest trick of all. Only when someone said they didn’t believe in the stories and songs, only when someone seemed un-moved by the comforts the stories promised, only when someone merely shrugged their shoulders and said “life is hard and that is that,” did Fear turn into its old self to survive. When it did it was as violent and terrifying as it had previously been.
This was how the people knew what it really was.