Fear is a feeling induced by perceived danger or threat that occurs in certain types of organisms, which causes a change in metabolic and organ functions and ultimately a change in behavior such as fleeing, hiding, or freezing from perceived traumatic events. . . In humans and animals, fear is modulated by the process of cognition and learning. . . The fear response serves survival by generating appropriate behavioral responses, so it has been preserved throughout evolution.(Wikipedia)
Our contemporary world view seems to often use the word fear to describe a state of being as well as juxtapose the notion of love as its opposite. I find this disconcerting as if the notion of fear is to be avoided at all cost and the idyllic pursuit of humanity is to live in love, a much more difficult and noble effort while far less able to grasp in design, meaning and definition.
What if this juxtaposition and long standing pursuit to grasp one over the other by limiting as well as suppressing another is the very undoing of our ability to mind the gap of our relationships to the world, including other individuals, and denies our agency to rationally think? Flippantly said, love does not seem rational, (check in for yourself), and fear obviously seems to be rational in many cases. I would propose the notion of love being the opposite of fear, in a contemporary world, reduces the real value of fear as a resource. A real elemental human resource, that if contrasted as a human cultural/social state, with a body of work that relentlessly suggests, even demands at times, we ought to all love one another, as opposed to fear one another, we lose the value of that resource. Love seems to leave our tongue more poetically and simply uttering the word, fear, conjures about a world of us and them, when coupled ever so quickly with the notion of love. Love is not an elemental resource for human beings, yet before you find yourself moving away from this notion with slight disgust, (knowing that some of you may have already), I urge you to pause that habitual direction you step.
I love love! Love is a compound resource for humans. Arising in the experience of of both intuitive reaction and relational agency with another agent, we label that very possibly greatest of life experiences with the poetry of language. A experience of being connected, whole, known, full, complete, OK, love! As the Biologist E.O Wilson says best; “Humans are the poetic species.”
Yet I don’t think I would want the bulk of this essay to be about fear vs. love and/or fear and love or even to convince you I love. What I would like the reader to consider are two things. One the Boldleader principle of Mindful Language and two the elemental resources, finite in number, that we at BoldLeaders assert are the underlying resources that allow for the infinite experiences we hanker for. The compounds such as, wonder, awe, joy, creativity, collaboration, and yes. . .love. I would like the focus to be on a particular elemental, fear, and considering this essay may stimulate one to also consider the other elementals in future published thoughts.
First, Mindful Language. Sounds grand, yet how do we distinguish this at Boldleaders? (I added bold to some text) from our web site: https://www.boldleaders.org/about/our-principles/
Language can reflect our internal state as well as impact our internal and external environment. Mindful Language can be said to be “bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience with language”. Being aware and paying attention to the use of language as a means to establish a tone as well as the meaning behind your message.
Life for human beings arises in language, allowing for a past, a present and a future. Language is both a boon and a bane to our efforts. It limits us, yet can expand our landscapes. We are interested in common language that upgrades as well as determines paths for our results. Language that helps invent the next reference points and vocabulary for how people coordinate together with strength while remaining individually unique, with strength. A way to label our experiences, with power. As Bold Leaders, we strive to replace the inherited, automatic language that cultivates fragmentation with mindful, careful language that promotes coordination, collaboration and integration between people and within communities.
I would assert that the word fear has been reduced to an almost inherited, automatic language, that cultivates fragmentation. Recent elections in the U.S.A. demonstrate this best. One side is constantly referenced as generating fear, while the other, decrying this fear and declaring they will not succumb to lowering themselves to that fear state, but will strive to live in love. Even their like minded friends who react to certain social/political events perceived as fearfully, may be admonished for their “reactionary state” versus sticking with love. And before I proceed down that rabbit hole, let me catch myself and see if I can generate an inclusive notion that best serves the role of a Boldleader.
Consider fear as a valuable resource. So valuable, that when we move it from the most common usage of the word being lumped in with emotions to that term used from the opening paragraph from Wikipedia, as a “response” we can begin to consider not only the possibility, we can begin to consider fear an instinct, much like our other basic instincts. If it is an instinct, even if we simply view it from that perspective, the value of an instinct, insuring our survival at an individual level as well as a communal level, we might find it in our best interests to shift and reconsider the practice of avoiding our fears, masking our fears, massaging our fears or outright denying we have any.
It also may become apparent to you that if we stop overlaying a word like fear, as an emotion, or the underlying cause of our emotions, like so many other practices, our actual emotions may be properly labeled and dealt with in a more powerful even expedited and practical manner. What I mean by this is simply this: Anxiety becomes anxiety and not anxiety said to be caused by fear. Sadness is real sadness and not fear of something resulting in sadness. Depression is not a result of fear, but of depression. Anger is real anger and nothing else. Angst, too, and even actual fright. Even something like joy become the experiences we have and labeled with consideration appropriately.
Fear, as an instinct, becomes something else completely and nothing to be avoided. It is a warning and a wake up. A pay attention moment, hair standing on end, or even a powerful chime to propel us awake. It is in a nutshell, an elemental human resource. Basic to other organisms yet as an elemental resource to humans, a powerful ally in the creation of experiences of life we seek out as individuals and communities.
If as we assert, that we adapt over time to the lack of use of our elemental resources like observation, senses, movement, memory, mimicry, cooperation, etc. (see list) includes the elemental instinct of fear. . .we “lose it” by not “using it” and certainly limit ourselves by virtue of not practicing the foundational and combinatory elements that allow for us to accidently or intentionally label the experiences of our life. Fear becomes something other than the evolutionary intent. It has meaning added that limits the value, even shifts the value, to something not to pay attention to in the moment or even as an early warning system of things to possibly come. Our intentional and intuitive cognitions are lessened, possibly solidified into dogma and habit. Rational process becomes suspect.
Fear is elemental and combinatory. love is a compound and an experience label. If one desires the experience of love, the elementals can be reverse engineered. If elementals are practiced, with or without intent, we may have resulting experiences best categorized as a love moment. (Though most readers likely have the thought we must be intentional. OK by me, both are equal in existence. There is no overwhelming evidence that either/or internal intention overrides external stimulation alone, or vica versa. Here I am a both-and guy)
Returning to politics and social issues in the U.S.A. I sense that a shift to fear as an instinct, elemental to us all as a resource, may allow for people to begin to think and reason. To slow down, Cause Pause™ a training technique we advocate. Combine with the other finite elementals we can now begin a process. Possibly a process of design that allows for more and a result of that arising, experiences that may form careful language that promotes coordination, collaboration and integration between people and within communities. (More on this can be experienced during the Perspective Box Game)
The emotional use of the word in language traps us in just that. An emotional label of an experience that may mask or prevent actual real emotions.
There is nothing to fear, beyond the lack of use of our elemental human resources that then respond by becoming unfamiliar to us.