Chris Valetin, 62, of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, says he fears ISIS and the America that the next generation will live in. The retired steelworker spends nights hanging out at the Fraternal Order of Eagles bar chatting with other longtime locals over beers. He told photographer Mike Belleme that the current political climate has caused him so much frustration that, for the first time since he was 18, he may not vote for a President. "I got nieces, they got little kids. I love 'em to death, but what the hell is the world gonna be like when they get to be my age if they make it that far? I just don't understand it all." As far as ISIS: "Somebody's gotta go down there and take care of things, and we're the only country that's gonna do it. ... If we don't stop them over there, they're gonna come over here."
Mohammed Quraishi, 21, lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, and fears extremists harming or killing his siblings in Iraq. Originally from Baghdad, Quraishi fled to Lebanon with his mother and younger brother in 2010 before they relocated to Knoxville. His older brother and sister were over 18 and not granted refugee status, he told Belleme. The family has been separated for six years. "My father was a translator for the U.S. Army and he was shot and killed. When my brother got married, I could not be there. There is no way to go back; I would be stupid to go. You don't have a future in Iraq. You don't know when you're gonna die."
Ann Dunn, 69, of Asheville, North Carolina, has what she calls an empathetic fear for the suffering of the world. She's a humanities professor at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and she was an activist for much of her life. Now she says she feels the pain of the world's tragedies. "While I am fortunate enough not to feel fear in my own daily life, I do feel deeply what I think of as empathetic fear. When I look into the eyes of a Syrian civil war refugee child or a father desperately trying to save his baby; when I look into the eyes of four Mexican drug war refugee children backed against a wall by a large uniformed customs officer; when I look into the eyes of a refugee Tutsi mother and her child escaped from the Rwandan genocide -- I experience their terror in my core. Their fear becomes my fear."
Peggy May, 46, of Lewiston, Maine, fears discrimination and hate crimes. After three marriages and four children, she came out as gay about five years ago. She lives in the town of Lewiston, which over the last 15 years has become one of the biggest landing spots for Somali refugees and immigrants. Watching her hometown change has been scary for her, especially because she believes Muslim culture is less tolerant of homosexuality. "Ever since (the Orlando shooting) in the gay club, we have to worry here as well. We had gay pride that weekend, and a lot of people didn't show up because they were terrified."
Fatuma Hussein, 39, lives in Lewiston, Maine, and fears never having a place to belong. There is tension in Lewiston between the natives and the growing Somali population. Hussein is frustrated by the lack of acceptance. "When you're Muslim, when you're black, when you're a woman, when you're an immigrant, it's just so many layers of barriers that are against you -- and it's very, very painful. And for me, how I deal with it is determination, I think. Remember we are starting from a place of historical trauma, crazy war, all kinds of stuff, right? And you come here and you want to start your life over again, but it's just so scary. ... The American Dream is not a reality for us. So where do we belong, you know?"
Jessie "Bigga" Harris, 50, of Brooklyn, New York, fears for the safety of his children. He has seen a lot of violence and crime firsthand, and he told Belleme he was "a product of the environment at one time." With two young daughters and a 25-year-old son, their lives are his biggest concern. "My biggest fear today is my daughters walking down the street and I'm afraid she might get hit by a bullet. I've seen a whole lot of that in my life. I lost a whole lot of people close to me. I lost a lot of friends. A lot of my friends lost their kids."
Damien Trott, 21, of Columbia, South Carolina, fears gang violence and bullying. For his job at Liberty Tax, he stands on the side of the road wearing a Statue of Liberty costume to attract potential customers. "I was jumped a couple years ago. I got tased really bad and went to the hospital. I feel kinda iffy when I'm out. You never know what might happen."
Taylor Jobin, 24, lives in Washington and fears failing in his career. He currently works as a program instructor at an education nonprofit, and he has a strong drive to make it in the competitive world of Washington politics. The tattoo on the inside of his arm says, "Limits, like fear, are often just an illusion." It was the last line of Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame speech. "He was my favorite basketball player growing up. Whenever I'm kind of afraid to do something, I say it in my head and try and convince myself, like, it's not real, it's just in your head."
Chris Crutcher, 54, is a homeless man in New York who fears dying and not having a funeral. He lives in a homeless shelter after being in and out of prison for 20 years. "I don't have no insurance and I'm not too much in contact with my family, and New York got a system here where, when you pass away and they can't get in contact with family members, they bury you in their cemetery. My family members have an old perception of me. During my incarceration, they really never got a chance to meet me during my change. I changed over from thinking like a boy, to a man. I became a father, and they haven't yet met my daughter. I think that I'm more relevant to people than they think I am; they just don't know those parts about me. ... I'm a good fella. I am. I'm a really good fella."
Missy Bianchi, 48, of Harlan, Kentucky, fears her children straying from their Christian faith. She does hair and makeup at a funeral home and says she is grateful to have spent so much time so close to death because it has made her and her family very comfortable with it. Because of her Christian beliefs, she does not fear death, Belleme said. Instead, she fears the choices that her children will make. "My faith colors everything about my life. For them to stray away from their faith would be, in my opinion, the worst thing that could happen to them."
Forest Wallingford, 22, lives in Asheville, North Carolina, and fears being alienated from her religious family. She is a politically liberal atheist, and her father's family is Republican evangelical Christians. After eight years of not seeing her father, she recently visited him in Missouri to try to salvage their relationship. "One of my biggest fears is the idea of disappointing my family and losing contact with them because of my disbelief in God. I have completely lost touch with my father because of it."
Bruce Everage, 58, works for a coal company in Hazard, Kentucky, and fears imminent unemployment in the face of health problems. He works in the security booth at a mine that is already closed, so he will be unemployed as soon as the company is done removing their equipment from the site. With a laundry list of health problems, Everage is afraid of what will happen when he loses his job. "I'll probably go on Social Security," he told Belleme. "I've already been a custodian, but I can't swing a mop anymore on account of my back, and I can't see good enough to do anything else anymore. My feet won't let me stand long at a time or walk long at a time. ... I was raised poor and simple, and I expect to die poor and simple. That's all I can say."
Joseph Otwell, 51, of Susanville, California, fears not living to see his daughter graduate college. He has had a string of bad fortune with injuries and medical mishaps. At age 26, he sustained a back injury on the job that has rendered him disabled ever since. He has had several procedures that have gone poorly and resulted in scar tissue around his intestines. He has a battery-powered spinal cord stimulator that enables him to be able to walk, but once the battery dies in eight or nine years, doctors told him they will probably not be able replace it because of the scarring. He would be rendered totally immobile, an existence he doesn't want to live through. "I tell my kids I won't be around a long time like Grandpa. I'm suffering way too much pain."
State Police Sgt. Rob Farley, 39, of Harlan, Kentucky, fears an inability to express love to his family and friends. He is aware that police may have a tarnished reputation, but he believes that is grounded in isolated incidents. Instead, his fears have to do with being a good Christian and a good family man. "My biggest fear is expressing to the ones in my inner circle, my family and friends, that I love them," he told Belleme. "I don't want to fail in that aspect of my life. My kids know that I love them, but I'm not a very open person. As a police officer, I don't express emotions and whatnot."
Tiffany Narron, 31, of Asheville, North Carolina, fears she can't trust people. As a child she struggled with obesity, which showed her how cruel people can be. She has also been a victim of sexual assault on more than one occasion, she told Belleme. Now she is looking for ways to confront her inner fears head on rather than hiding from them. "There is some healing that has to happen around it. Just it being a part of me as a person and wanting to move on from it and not have it be my life story. That's the hardest part, is wanting to move on and trust other people and having to admit that I can't fully all the time. ... I'm always thinking that worst-case scenario."
Nigel McCourry, 34, is an Iraq War veteran who lives in Asheville, North Carolina, and fears complacency. After serving in Iraq, he returned to the United States suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder. "We got shot at every day. After three months, it was like primitive survival mode. There were signs in Iraq that read 'Complacency Kills.' Becoming complacent makes you vulnerable and lazy. Fear can be a good friend or a wicked enemy. As a friend, fear allows us to identify our own insecurities and weaknesses, and it communicates to us when we are in danger. As an enemy, it haunts us and makes us targets of manipulation."
Kameron Horn, 32, of Oakland, California, fears the lasting effects of a recent race-related experience. What was supposed to be a much-needed relaxing break in the woods with his girlfriend became very tense as he started to overhear people around him talking about him being with a white girl. At one point he started to fear for his life, and eventually he and his girlfriend fled the campsite. "I had that feeling that I was actually gonna die. You're literally helpless to human beings that hate you because you're colored. Little does this guy know that I just got my DNA done and I'm 44.9% European. He wouldn't even care -- just because I look black to him, he hates me. ... It hurts your pride. I guess I just don't want it to change who I am. I also don't want to develop a hatred for people, because I love people. I'd be scared of this having a lasting effect on me."
Aaron Pringe, 25, is a farmer in Davis, California, who fears losing what he considers the American way of life. He wasn't raised on a farm, but he started working on a friend's farm at a young age. "I like being able to see the results of what you did in a more tangible way. I also like providing safe food for people. I take a lot of pride in that. Different political issues and different policies and things make it a lot harder. At least for me, my ultimate goal would be to have my own business, and trying to start a farm is almost impossible unless your family comes from that, just because the startup costs are so high. Allowing foreign companies to come in and buy our agricultural companies and our agricultural land has made prices just skyrocket. It's just tough when people higher up make decisions that affect the people that are really working hard and really driving this country and doing all the dirty work."
Gillian Morris, 30, of San Francisco, fears the country backsliding and losing progressive traction. She lived and worked in a number of countries all over Asia and the Middle East before moving to San Francisco to launch a travel app. "We are so lucky to live in the U.S. There are so many incredible things about being here that people here don't appreciate at all. My biggest fear is backsliding from the pretty incredible state that I think we are as a country. ... Fear is a huge thing that can make societies change very quickly. I think there's a lot we have to do to keep the rights that we've fought for."
Ash Allen, 74, of Virginia City, Nevada, fears the possibility of World War III. He saw war firsthand fighting in Vietnam, an experience he doesn't like to talk about and something he doesn't want to see again. He says his biggest fear is making enemies with countries like Russia and China. "They're already getting ready for us. That's got me more worried than anybody. All them atomic weapons them countries (have) got. It's scary."
Sikara Sullivan, 15, lives in Grass Valley, California, and has fears about her own future and the future of the planet. "I'm really stressed about the future," she told Belleme. "About my future, personally, because I have, like, no idea at all about what I want to be when I grow up and that kind of worries me. ... Also, I'm worried about the planet. That's something, probably everyone is. ... It makes me mad that we're messing with this planet so much but we're only one species. There will probably be a couple big wars. Like, really big wars because everyone has so much anger and there are so many people. ... I don't know what I want to be when I grow up, but I'm thinking I might want to join the Peace Corps. I don't think I could just have a desk job or something while stuff like this is happening."
Irwin Tuttle, 89, is an artist in Searsport, Maine, who says he fears nothing. He got a sense of perspective about fear while fighting in World War II. At his age, he has cultivated a psychology of not embracing fear. "I think there's something wrong with me in a sense I don't worry about stuff. ... We're just lucky we're here enjoying ourselves while we're still alive, right? They fear because they believe they are the center of their universe, right? They have to protect it because nature wants them to protect it so the species can propagate. But in reality it's an illusion. We're nothing. We're here for such a brief moment, not even a flicker in time. Once you realize you're just a blade of grass in this vast field of other grass blades, you're nothing special, then you stop worrying about things."