The fewer fears we have the more open-minded and accepting we are of possibilities and variations in all aspects of life and humanity.
When we are afraid of the wrath of an imaginary being in the sky, we will be fearful of anything we are told is unacceptable, against god, or an action that will deny you entry to heaven.
I have to wonder if radical fundamentalism is one the more extreme forms of the fear of mortality. Believe, follow the rules, become born again, and whatever you do in this life will be forgiven in the afterlife. Ah, no worries, I’m already saved!
When we are afraid of the colour of someone’s skin, different than our own, we might also be afraid of the possibilities and variance of sexuality and gender.
When someone is intensely fearful (to the point of manic paranoia) of not having enough, they might take a country hostage, do backroom deals, manipulate data, tell lies, and have people killed so they can be the unchallenged supreme leader until death.
When you are afraid of yourself, you will be afraid of anyone who freely expresses their own potential.
The evils in the world stems from fear.
When we do something out of fear it might not appear as fear to others.
It shows up in the form of someone being a bully, a homophobe, a racist, or a dictator.
The more we are afraid of, the less self-esteem we have — the less we are aware of our uniqueness and our identity.
Fear takes us outside of ourselves, seeking solace in the external world, by way of possessions, money, power, or dogma.
Peace is found deep within oneself and is one of the biggest slayers of fear.
But peace isn’t the opposite of fear.
So what is the opposite of fear?
The answer is,
Love without judgment or expectation.
The qualifiers “without judgment or expectation “ are important. This is not love for your child or your lover. This is a love that comes from empathy, a love that can make a positive difference in minimizing and defeating fear, in yourself and others.
For example, it is not love to say, “The Bible teaches us to love the sinner but not the sin.”
That’s not love, it’s hypocrisy. It’s a statement based in dogma, which is a form of control based on the fear of otherness.
Love without expectation or judgment sounds like this,
“You are different from me and I do not understand. Would you help me understand you so that I will be less afraid, so that I will no longer judge you for who you are?”
When the leaders of countries trade insults and threatening statements, they need to recognize that fear is the foundation of their conflict. Their pride, another form of fear, is the foundation of their mistrust and politicking.
There is a story told by Tony Robbins about Mikhail Gorbachev meeting with Ronald Reagan in Geneva in 1985. The meeting was going badly. Everyone was tense and argumentative. According to Robbins’ retelling, Gorbachev remembers that,
What happened was that we were in this mad argument, worse and worse, going nowhere, all of a sudden this President Reagan stands up and says ‘this is not working’ with this weird look on this face and he says how about we start fresh? My name is Ron, may I call you Mikhail…. At that moment the world changed. He was no evil, he was no horrible [sic], he was such a nice man.
The problem with fear is that it is often controlled by our ancient brain to protect us and keep us comfortable. Without being aware of that, we can manufacture our own downfall.
We need to step back to see our fears for what they are.
This is not always easy to do, and challenging in the heat of the moment. Personal space and time are needed to feel safe enough to breathe calmly and embrace one fear at a time.
To embrace your fear you are not accepting it.
You are seeking to understand why you have been reacting and the elements that bring the fear to bare.
The more we can feel love in the moment, without expectation or judgment, the more we diminish the power a fear has held over us.
How can you make this work for you the next time you are faced with your own fear or someone else’s?
How can you respond differently to someone’s homophobia or bigotry? Could you extend your hand and help them understand they are reacting out of fear, but they have nothing to be afraid of?