Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Sum of all Fears

Our fears have been brought to the surface. The current atmosphere is not new, but with news and social media reporting terrorist attacks immediately, it seems the world is a more dangerous place. James Hardie-Bick, who studied the works of Ernest Becker and other existential thinkers, asserted that human evil has its roots in our need for "meaning, purpose, and self-esteem gained by achieving a heroic image of ourselves." In his work, he discusses how fear of our own death causes us to behave in hostile ways even in the absence of any immediate danger. We stereotype and reject people who are different from us to protect ourselves from the anxiety we feel out of not understanding. We bring about evil by trying to overcome it.

War does not solve conflict. War is the conflict. It does not reconcile differences, heal, or convince anyone of an opposing view. It's purpose is misguided. It does not bring peace. War is blameless. War is war. The responsibility for it lies with us. Peace begins with us.

The reasons for war may be important, but we don't act from that place. That is where conflict is. We find common ground. What is common ground? We are. We are people, all of us, who love, who dream, who have families and personal struggles, who believe as we have learned to believe, who have yearnings, who dream for something better, and who want to be significant, consequential and relevant in this world. Us against them gets us none of what we want. It creates divisions between us. Focusing on our differences and acting from that place breaks our spirits, spreads fear and hate, and breeds more fear and hate. We share this world. Appreciation and respect go a long way in healing our it, knowing and acknowledging that there are different ways of viewing the world.

Harmonious coexistence begins this moment. We don't blame ISIL, the Bush Administration, independent jihadist groups, the Vatican, AQAP, Syrian refugees, the French, or any other group. We cannot find solutions, healing or reparation there. We start by recognizing diversity and letting it be, not wishing for it to be anything different from what it is. The sum of all fears lies in what we don't understand, in what we find to be disparate. Today, let us try to understand and see our sameness. Let us add our similarities and move away from fear and closer to hope and love.

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