A couple of days ago, I raised a question of how we can overcome fear and hate. Is there a way out of this vicious cycle of threat-fear-mistrust-hate-crime?
Here’s my attempt to answer that question.
Fear is good to have. It is an instinct that we have developed in our evolution, to be able to survive. We continue to learn to fear newer things while taming the old ones. As we evolve, we also teach our children to fear some things. This is important, although in my opinion, if we taught children courage and compassion in place of fear, we could have a much better world.
One of the opposites of fear is bravado, which usually does not have positive outcomes. It’s like the proverbial Dodo that fearlessly jumped off the cliff. That won’t do. So then what’s the problem, if fear is good to have?
The problem is when you let that fear take control of your life. The problem is when you let that fear masquerade as hate. The problem is when you let that hate lead you to do wrong things to yourself and others.
Many times the fear feeding is so subtle and we are not conscious of what is happening. It could be the people you hang out with, the literature that you are exposed to, the media, concepts of lopsided patriotism and nationalism, the religious leaders who tell you that you are somehow superior to others because of your own faith or religion, your own family or community.
As soon as you hear that there’s an US vs The other, you must recognize that the seeds of fear are being sown.
So how do we change this? Be the change you want to see said Mahatma Gandhi. That’s a very deep and profound statement. Very difficult to do. Start with some questions for yourself. Being self-aware helps us recognize the dynamics. Do you hate something or someone? What are your own beliefs and values that make you mistrust the other?
Next time you think or hear yourself say you don’t trust someone or hate something, stop and ask yourself what it is that you fear.
Ask yourself if you are generalizing, lumping whole groups and communities because of an isolated experience, or because fear is being fed to you.When faced with fear, seek opportunities to act with courage and compassion rather than mistrust and hate.
Although our primitive responses of flight or fight kick in at the first sign of fear, if we stop and analyse the cause, it is possible to isolate the experience, become conscious of the mechanisms at play that feed fear, and confront it. It is possible to overcome fear.
If you haven’t yet seen the animated movie How to Train Your Dragon, it’s time to do so now.