Chapman University in Orange, California was founded in 1861 and has roughly 8,000 students.  The school mascot is Pete the Panther.  According to the Hollywood Reporter, it is the #7 Film School in the country.  And they would know.

But, if you’ve heard of Chapman University, chances are it’s not for any of the reasons listed above.  It’s because you know a little something about being afraid. Or maybe being very afraid.

For the last three years, Chapman University has published a Survey on American Fears.  They took a random sampling of 1500 adults over the age of eighteen, threw eleven different categories of potentially scary things (“The Domains of Fear”) at them, and asked which ones they were “afraid” or “very afraid” of.

The top answer may surprise you.  I know it surprised me.  For two years running, the #1 fear has been Corrupt Government Officials.  And it’s not even a close race. Terrorism-related fears are a distant second in each survey.  It makes me long for the simpler times of 2014 when our top fear was Walking Alone at Night.

By the time you read this, the U.S. will have elected a president and I’m not going to speculate which candidate is the most corrupt.  For people to be so fearful, perhaps the corruption is, in fact, more widespread than the top two hoping to be president?  Is it at the federal, state, or local level?  Maybe the biggest fear is that we don’t know where the corruption is.  Just that it could be out there somewhere. There are some bad hombres in American politics.

Comparing surveys is difficult because they seem to make changes every year. Some fears, however, don’t go away.  Top ten fears in the last two surveys include Economic/Financial Collapse, Not Enough Money for the Future, and Identity Theft.

Fear of Firearm Restrictions and fear of Obamacare jumped more than ten places to make this year’s top ten.  It must be those rising premiums.

Two other top ten fears for 2016, both related, apparently didn’t even make the survey at all last year.  Fear of a Loved One Dying and a Loved One Seriously Ill made me scratch my head.  Admittedly, both of those fears are justified and horrible to even contemplate.  No argument there.  But it seems to overlook the obvious: What about your own mortality?

Where is the fear of Dying?  In the last two surveys, it doesn’t crack the top fifty! In 2015, fear of Dying was #53, just five spots below fear of Volcanos.  This year, it’s even lower on the list at #59.  Even the fear of Deep Lakes/Oceans came in at #52.

What does that say about the survey respondents?  Was everyone under the age of thirty?  Do people think they’re going to live forever or are they just comfortable with their place in the hereafter?  I guess if we worry more about Obamacare now, we can postpone worrying about dying.

I won’t say I worry about dying, but the fear of death is lurking somewhere below the surface.  One day you’re here and the next day you’re not.  That’s pretty scary. It makes me wonder if the survey, like our election, isn’t rigged.

For now, I don’t have time to fear death.  I have a much bigger fear standing in the way.  Fear of The Holidays.

What are your fears?  Please leave a comment…