Saving Ourselves from Ourselves

“We have met the enemy and he is us!” – Pogo (an old comic strip character)

There are two types of fear. There is natural fear, which is life giving and unnatural fear, which is life destroying. Natural fear is how we react to an immediate threat, like removing our hand from a hot stove. Unnatural fear results when we fail to face up to fearful thoughts and emotions that have no basis in our immediate reality. One popular definition of unnatural “fear” is “False Evidence Appearing Real.” In the Middle East, fear is turning into anger and hate.

As we think, we create. We know this intuitively so when we imagine a frightening event growing out of something we’ve done or something we’re doing, we fear it might become real (what we give is what we get), especially when we feel guilt or shame as a result of our own actions or inactions.

For example, when we habitually eat more food than our bodies need, drink too much alcohol, take too many drugs, smoke, or refuse to exercise and develop skills that give us value to others, we know we’ll suffer somehow and at some point in our lives as a result of our own actions or inactions.

The same holds true when someone far away threatens to kill us and we don’t ask why. How can we resolve this situation peacefully by reacting to it with violence? Why would we choose to react this way unless we’re afraid to know why this person wants to kill us? Are we afraid to admit we’re doing something to piss this person off or that we’re too insensitive and uncaring to want to know what’s making him or her feel that way?

If we allow ourselves to live in a state of unnatural fear too long, we’ll become polarized and insane; oops, too late! We become dysfunctional. Eventually, dis-ease turns into disease and worse, as we can see.

The more we fear something, the more we give it power. To remove the source of unnatural fear from our lives and keep ourselves from stewing in our own juices, we need to face our unnatural fears, understand them, embrace them and move through them back to love and understanding. There are reasons why everything happens and we know that. Too often we don’t want to know what those reasons are because we may have to do something about them, like change how we think, what we do, and how we live.

There are two types of aggression in the world as well, “destructive” aggression and “constructive” aggression. What we see in our government today is destructive aggression. One of my old college physics instructors used to call this the “Brute Strength and Ignorance method” of solving problems. He discouraged us from using this method in solving physics problems. I suspect it was a shrewd way of telling us to find better ways to solve life’s problems as well.

The Bush administration falls into the Brute Strength and Ignorance category of solving problems and it scares us all because we know unpleasant consequences grow out of contempt and violent confrontation. When our own government tries to blind us with fear and invade our privacy, while shrouding their own in greater and greater secrecy; when it builds private armies to defend itself against us; when it uses our collective wealth and credit to build detention centers in our own country to disappear dissenters, we’re in grave trouble. We have become our own worst enemy and it’s time to save ourselves from ourselves.

As humans, we know we’re all going to die some day, some how. Why not focus on creating a pleasing reality so we can go out with dignity, knowing we’ve done the best job we can in creating it? Which self, which world do we want to create, and leave behind for our children?

Which Self

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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Seth on The Sacredness of Life

I have told you before, there are NO ACCIDENTS! No man is sent accidentally and innocently off to war. He who kills must learn what killing is by being the victim. You will learn that you cannot buy peace through violence. You will learn it! You will learn not only that human life is sacred, but that the life within each molecule and atom is sacred.

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Divorced from Reality

Yesterday afternoon, on the Ed Schultz radio talk show, a man who described himself as a Conservative started talking about the Jena Six trial. He narrowed the framework of discussion down to the point where the Jena Six (six black high school students) beat a white student unconscious under the school tree where three nooses had been hung as a cruel joke or sinister warning. The caller was deliberately eliminating all other elements associated with this event as if they were not in any way connected.

Like a lawyer trying to win a case, he narrowed the focus of the discussion down to this one event then asked Ed and the listening audience, “Did these six black students beat this kid into unconsciousness?” He was trying to get us to say “yes” because it was true, the six black students did beat the white student until he was unconscious, and even after that, I understand. What this guy, and many of us forget or conveniently ignore, is that all things are both one and separate. Beating this white boy up cannot be separated from other events that led up to this action because they modify it. Nor can this event be divorced from the social environment we all grow up in. We, as individuals, and society, through the establishment of its laws and institutions, play a role in shaping others and their behavior. Life does not happen in a vacuum! 

We need to ask ourselves where the behavior of narrowing the field of discussion down to a single event, as if it were totally separate from everything else to gain consensus and shift opinion, comes from? What underlying beliefs make it okay for us to lie, cheat, distort, deny and manipulate the truth of reality? The belief that we are all separate and in competition for survival is the only belief I can think of that’s strong or compelling enough to make us deliberately betray the beauty and complexity of life by attempting to reduce it to a series of singular events. This is a narrow, limiting, and divisive view of reality that threatens peace and long term survival for all of us.

An old friend, now deceased, emailed me a clever little argument like this once that was circulating amongst his Republican friends. I was so angry and disappointed with him! I knew him to be smarter and more honest than that. Fear, mixed with guilt, makes us do strange things.

Speaking my mind – Pete

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Visit The LifeSong Store where the world comes to shop for inspirational and life-changing ideas on T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, hoodies and more. Change the world for the better with POTS! (Philosophy On T-Shirts)