Monday, January 26, 2009

Do you have "The Fear"?

What type of fear do you claim to own? Or to be put a little better, what type of fear owns you? Is the fear that you have keep you doing the same thing everyday, or does it make you search for answers in new and possibly unconventional ways? Does your fear paralyze you, or mobilize you? Knowing what type of fear controls you is a thing that does not come easy to a great deal of people. Why is this so? Well, most people simply don't want to admit they're afraid, which is a funny concept, considering that fear is what makes us, and more importantly, keeps us from destroying ourselves. All the following are poignant examples; a child knows not to ride into the street on his little three wheeler because his parents instilled a healthy fear by telling him that he could be hit by a car if he does so. A gazelle on the African Savannah constantly stays alert, always scanning its surroundings between mouthfuls of grass; it knows through instinct and experience that it could become a meal for any number of predators waiting in ambush. Or how about the shy and geeky boy who has a crush on the prettiest girl in his class? He has dreamt of talking to her now for quite sometime, but his fear of rejection and embarrassment keeps him from even uttering a word in her presence. What do all these fears have in common? It is their duality. No matter how many times the parent may tell the little boy not to ride into the street he will do so anyway at some point; he HAS to see for himself whether the danger of oncoming traffic is legitimate. The gazelle knows that it could be ambushed at any second by stepping out onto the open Savannah, but at the same time it also knows that the delicious and most nutritious grasses grow where it is most dangerous to eat. The shy and geeky boys feelings may eventually overrun the fear of rejection or embarrassment that he carries in him and allow him to talk to that pretty girl. It is these different types of fears that bind us all, for every creature in this world shares these fears no matter what. It is quite a paradox to realize though that these same fears keep us separated and distrustful of one another. It is wired into our genetics to be scared of things, because doing so helps us avoid potentially harmful situations, but where should we draw the line in what we are scared of? That question is left up to you, the reader, to interpret. In this day and age, there are many things to be scared of; nuclear war, pollution, the decimation of our environment and resources, and probably the most terrifying and serious threat to our existence; an apathetic population. An apathetic population shares a common fear, a fear that most people would never ever admit to. A fear of knowledge. I assume that there is not a more dangerous fear to have in this entire universe than a fear of knowledge. It seems though, that these days people are more scared of knowledge now than ever before. In this "age of information", where everyone may as well have a three pronged adapter in the back of their heads, most of them choose to hit the "off" button when it comes to the important issues. Many people are content in assuming that those in power have the tools necessary to address their problems and therefore they leave the most important and life altering decisions up to them to make. It is simply the bystander effect on a titanic scale. A person may assume that if no one else seems to care, why should he/she? It is a sad commentary on our existence that most people are too caught up in the rat race to care about knowledge. The only info that is important to many these days is how to make more money, and how to have as many nice things as possible. Knowledge outside of this realm is simply an afterthought, and can be a pretty dangerous one at that. From a very young age we are taught what is right and what is wrong. There is no questioning these things, and when asked why there is no questioning, many say: "Because that's how its always been". With this simple answer, many acquire the fear of knowing anything outside of what they are told. People are taught that this is just how it is no matter what, to just suck it up, and join the rest of the population in having a job, a car, a family, a house, a "normal life". Independent knowledge has no value in this "normal life", for the simple fact that there is no time for independent knowledge in a "normal life". People are far too busy paying off one bill after another while simultaneously getting into debt by buying things that they neither need or can afford. Independent knowledge has no place or business in this lifestyle, because all it can do is disrupt the cycle. This leads to another important reason of why people are afraid of knowledge; they are afraid that what they may learn may show them that they were wrong the entire time. Humans are scared of being wrong, and in turn don't like to be, even if it means compromising their own well being. To many, being wrong is a sign of weakness, and showing weakness is not a thing most people readily accept doing. But why should we be scared of being wrong if we in turn discover what is right? Why dwell on on your shortcomings, when instead you can look ahead with a clearer view of your existence? Fear is a good thing to have. Fear means that you care about your existence, and that you don't want to drift aimlessly in this world. I asked a question at the beginning of this article, and it went something like this: "Does your fear paralyze you, or mobilize you?" This could be one of the most important questions that you ever ask yourself because as Humans beings, we all want to know the answer to it. Will our fears bring us all together to change what is wrong with this world, or will we be consumed by our differences, blind to the fact that we are all swimming against the same current? I end this with a quote:
"The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there."
-Yasutani Roshi

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