Fear: Shutter of The Heart

Is Fear the most dangerous thing of all? Does it really serve a good purpose, or is it hiding the true reality? The thing I find myself fearing is fear itself, and what it’s doing to us as a culture, as human beings.

What do we do when we live in fear? We shut down. When we act from fear, we literally process information in ‘life or death’ terms and activate our ‘fight or flight’ response in the body. This mechanism exists to keep us safe and keep us alive. But in doing so, our immune system shuts down. Our brains turn off. Creativity drains away. Infinite possibilities evaporate. Open arms and hearts close up, barring entrance from anything or anyone suspicious. We process only that information which benefits the situation and the final ‘fight or flight’ decision. Only that and nothing else. Why would your brain waste precious energy in a life and death situation trying to be creative and open-minded? Doing so might cost our life!

Yet even with all the life-saving functions, we were not meant to live in fear ALL of our lives – only for small instances where we needed to outrun someone with a club, think fast on the road, survive an encounter with a bear, or save a loved one from scary situation. But the fear response, and what it creates and does to us, cannot possibly benefit us if we are living it every moment of every day. A dark cloud looming overhead. This emotional force was designed to save our lives in short bursts, not to be endured for an extended period.

What a toll this fear is taking on our health and our hearts. Constant fear certainly will not nurture our souls so we may grow and evolve as humans.

It seems to me that fear cannot inherently exist where there is love. Real, infinite love. If you are operating out of love, you have no fear, only confidence of the moment and the person or situation in front of you. Fear accomplishes nothing; Love accomplishes everything.

Without fear, I really do think we can see things as they really are – and not through the lens of darkness that fear creates. What illusions might we be seeing that we are interpreting as real? That are only shadows from a deep fear in our mind?

Who plants the seeds of those shadows? How can we remove them, shine the light to reveal their true nature and source? Will an open heart reveal them, lift them from our shoulders?

Fear puts words into our mouths that are not our own. Fear ignites motivations that stem from false truths. Fear paralyzes us, but tricks us into thinking we are doing great things and protecting the common good. Fear does not encourage us to think outside ourselves and our own interest. Fear shutters our hearts and minds from infinite love.

Flawed by Nature, or Flawed by Nurture?

I struggle with why and how a fellow human being comes to the decision to kill many others, go on a ‘rampage’ with a gun or other weapon, and cause this kind of deep hurt and malice.

I try to put myself in someone’s shoes, to work out what kind of motivations might meet me there, in a place so dark as to consider murder as the solution to a problem.

I wrestle with the concept that this kind of action is not only becoming commonplace in our “advanced” society, but – dare I say it – trendy. A trending way for the outcast, disgruntled, or misunderstood persons among us to express their grief, anger, or sadness. A way to act out. A way to be heard or known. Or perhaps they feel nothing at all.

***

How does a civilized world like our own create and nurture people to have them act like this?

It doesn’t. I think this is the problem. We are NOT a culture of nurturing, and I think it’s heading to our undoing.

In this day and age, when we think we are so strong and free and intelligent, self-reliant and confidant, I think it’s possible that this is a farce. An outright lie. That we, as Americans, act this way based on an early preconception in our nation’s history that we are powerful and don’t need anyone else to survive. That our nation is the greatest, that Freedom rings from sea to shining sea – without “handouts” or support from anyone else.

This false truth has trickled down into the individual minds and consciousness of our populace, and now we impart these ideas on a day-to-day basis as an integral part of our own self-concept. We promote ‘picking oneself up by the bootstraps’ as the end-all, be-all of the American Dream. We are told that if we work hard, we will be rewarded. If we persevere, we will prevail. Survival of the fittest. When we see millionaires, we believe them to deserve the riches they worked for – and if we see someone by the side of the road, with a sign held up asking for help, we think they must have done something horrible to end up there. Or even more common, that they are lazy and don’t work hard, thus they are getting their comeuppance.

Personally, I am coming to the conclusion that this is an outright lie; an illusion that has lodged itself into our brains and drives us to a hard-edged, patriotic culture. Where we are pushed out into the world to conquer it, or be conquered.

This way of thinking is not only detrimental to ourselves, but detrimental to humanity as a whole. It is a cold, calculating, logical way of thinking that removes the human-centered, “fluffy” emotions that are integral to how we think and act. When you are telling others that their feelings and emotions are shameful and wrong, you are devaluing their experience.

In many ways, Christianity and religion promote shaming. And as we think of ourselves as a “Christian nation,” we also shame and devalue others for how they feel or think that we don’t approve of.

We tell people that feelings and emotions are wrong all the time. The most pertinent and personal examples to me are the “cry it out” sleep training we parents are advised to do, or telling mothers that they spoil their baby by picking them up too much or nursing them to sleep. What are these things really saying? They send a message to the infant that we are not receptive to their needs; to their emotions and what they are going through. That we are not empathetic; only sympathetic.

Babies do not know they are being spoiled or that they need to sleep on their own; they don’t know the concept of self-reliance. (That is an ADULT concept.) Babies just want their emotions –their experience – to be validated, to be nurtured. To be comforted and know they are not alone.

As it is with our adult selves.

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Gunman, I hear the news telling me to not acknowledge your name or your actions, as this would give credit to you and your “cause” or motives. That it would give you glory. But actually, in reading about you and others like you, if I read about you and your life, I feel deep sadness. I want to figure things out and make them right. How in God’s grace is it possible for you to kill others and justify this as a solution to a problem?

This is the kind of decision that one makes in a cold, calculating manner. A loveless manner. This is the decision from someone who feels unconnected and alone; someone who does not see things as human-centered. Perhaps someone who has been shamed for feeling wrong. Someone who feels mocked or belittled. Someone who has been ignored or kicked down, because they have been told they deserve it. Because we are sinful creatures. Flawed creatures.

I implore you: we are not flawed by nature; we are flawed by nurture.

In our free will as individuals, we are free to inflict harm on others. However, within us there exists a morality that guides us as to how to function with love and respect. A morality that must be nurtured. A morality that must be taught how to love. We need to witness it in the world, see examples, feel it in our hearts, if we are to act on it and live it.

We tend to imitate that which we see and hear in our lives. The motives, the thoughts of those closest to us, and the ideas presented by society. And our society is very bad at emulating nurturing, encouragement, and love.

If we tell others how wrong they are, inflict shame and guilt, but tell them to figure it out for themselves – or even worse, to ignore them – we are not nurturing our people. We are abandoning them.

What is abandonment, but another kind of death?

***

This kind of violence embodies desperate actions from a desperate person. And I desperately pray and hope that you know you are not broken; there is always a way to fix it. Our culture may not think so, but there is.

I pray for healing, love, peace and the care of humanity. We are ALL humans of unfathomable worth; I think it is time that we all acknowledge that and put our money where our heart is.

Love and Light to you all.