Friday, April 30, 2010

Fear is the mind killer

Do you recognize the quote:  "Fear is the mind killer" ? (answer at bottom)

I have been thinking about this quote ever since reading David King's post on The Politics of Fear. The Politics of Optimism.  

Most of the time, I live in a pretty optimistic state of mind. I believe people are generally good because I am surrounded every day by evidence of this. I believe that I am very blessed and have ample reason to feel optimistic about my future, my children's future and the future of my city, my province and my country. As a friend of mine says: "We lucked out in the lottery of life". If you were to ask if I feel optimistic about about AIDS in Africa, about Arizona or about the ice caps... the answer becomes more complex. I do jump into the pool of fear on some topics, but, by and large, I am not ruled by fear in my day-to-day existence and I am so very thankful for that.

Fear is the mind killer. It stops creativity. It blocks options, closes doors and isolates people from one another and from themselves. It clouds people's minds to possibilities.  Fear is suffocating, choking off laughter, joy and my favourite: irreverant silliness. Worse, it breeds hatred, despair, loathing and a perpetual mistrust of others. Every action is seen as malevolent; fear-thinkers are in a state of hyper-vigilence trying to anticipate and stave off the next horrible deed. They over-react, assign incorrect motives and jump to hateful conclusions. They whip up others to a state of anxiety, so soon whole groups are swept along in the fast-running river of fear. There is no chance to stop and think, to analyze, to question, because fear completely over-runs thought. It demands a quick, irrevocable (and often completely inappropriate) response.

How do we tame fear?

With compassion. With calm. And, in the case of politics, I believe with open communication.  Until we can sit down and openly share points of view, articulate our own fears and listen, with compassion, to the fears of others... we will continue to suffer the consequences of half-articulated thought. How much better, for instance, if the conversation about Bill 44 could have allowed fears about homosexuality (and teachers!) to be openly discussed? Yes, it would have been uncomfortable. It would have been painful even, but I think we could have learned something. We could have grown.... UP.

How will we create a forum for this type of adult conversation about real fears when, for so many, their fears are the very things holding them back from even starting the conversation? Fear of emotion, fear of pain, fear of public humiliation, fear of loss of power or wealth or control, fear of the unknown, fear of listening to others, fear of being wrong, fear of being found out.

Until we can get past these smaller personal fears, we will never have time or space to worry about the bigger global fears, the fears that deserve and need our attention: fear of environmental collapse, fear of inequality, fear of children starving, fear of immorality, fear of hopelessness and despair erupting into global violence.

So, let's stop killing our minds with fear, open up to compassion and start moving forward. It's time to get over the boogie-man in the closet and start facing the real challenges of adult life.

Answer: quote is from "Dune".


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