"If we’re busy making each other afraid, how do we develop the calm, the resilience, the awareness, even the sanity to deal with something as monumental as climate change?"
[by David Spangler] The Center for Disease Control or CDC has been much in the news of late, primarily due to the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa. This is an organization whose task is to monitor infectious diseases and prevent them from developing into epidemics or worse, pandemics.
The work of this organization is vitally important, especially as our world becomes more tightly knit together through the ease of air travel, allowing a disease to spread with unprecedented rapidity. Microbes do not respect political boundaries, and why should they? In many ways, this is their planet, making up by far the bulk of the biomass of all species; we just rent space from them!
The need for an organization such as the CDC arises because of the interconnectedness of society and of life itself. But we are equally if not more interconnected these days through the Internet, our minds and emotions in touch with other minds and emotions in distant places of the world. We can witness events occurring anywhere on the globe and feel their impact as if they were happening locally. Furthermore, if I’m mystically inclined, then I realize that as souls we have always been interconnected, part of a universal oneness. What happens to the least of us happens to all of us through the cosmic web of life.
With this interconnectedness in mind, it seems we are as fully in need of a “Center for Fear Control,” a CFC, as we are of a CDC. Maybe more so, for given our mental and emotional interconnections these days through media, fear can spread more widely more quickly than any disease, and it can create just as much if not more havoc. Under the right conditions, fear can be an ally informing us about danger and helping us to escape it. But it can also be a contagion, spreading from one person to another, sometimes directly but often indirectly along the invisible psychic web that connects us all.
We live in a fear-saturated society. Oh, much of this fear isn’t in the form of abject terror or unreasoning panic; the bulk of it is probably felt as a low-level but constant sense of anxiety and stress, often for reasons that aren’t immediately clear. All may be going well in my life and yet I can still be aware of feeling anxious.
This isn’t surprising. Just as there are sources generating physical pollution on a daily basis, so there are sources deliberately pumping fear pollution into our collective psychic environment. The most obvious are those like ISIL or Al-Qaeda, organizations who use terror as military and political weapons. Then there are governments who generate fear because a fearful populace is easier to manipulate and control. More subtly are modern economies that depend on fear to keep the wheels of commerce turning. Corporations may not use out and out terror to advertise their products but they play upon and even stimulate our anxieties to be accepted, to do the right thing, to look, smell, dress, and eat right. And then there are the religions that for millennia have used fear of God, fear of eternal punishment, fear of damnation, fear of the world to keep believers in line.
All of this stems from the very human idea that fear can be a tool to accomplish other ends and from a willingness to use this tool. It’s an ancient idea, one that any one of us may employ from time to time whether as parents, as bosses, or just in the struggle to get our way and to feel safe ourselves. Of course, as long as this tool of fear is an accepted and even applauded mode of human behavior, none of us can ever feel wholly safe for long.
The impact of the use of fear as a tool on human wellbeing is every bit as disastrous as any pandemic. It is a disease of consciousness, and its toll is greater than any disease of the body. And it makes us more vulnerable to those fears that arise from non-human sources, from viruses like Ebola or from the effect of earthquakes, hurricanes, droughts, and other natural disasters. If we’re busy making each other afraid, how do we develop the calm, the resilience, the awareness, even the sanity to deal with something as monumental as climate change?
As I said, we live in a fear-saturated world. We need a Center for Fear Control every bit as urgently as a Center for Disease Control. We need to stem the spread of fear and develop ways of spreading courage and peace instead. Read More