THE FEAR NEXT TIME
Fear is trending.
Lay open a map. Put a red circle on the spot of every recent attack. Feel the individuals who live in those red zones. Their grief, their bewilderment, their rage. And their Fear. See how fear is changing their inner lives. See how fear is infecting their words, their speech, their ideas, their philosophies.
Terrorism is trending. And with it these red circles of fear will mark more and more of our map. There is a red dot heading your way. How will you respond?
How will you respond when the little voice inside your head is no longer able to whisper to a news alert, ‘Thank God that was not me, or my city, or my lover, or my son, or my child”? How will you respond when what has just happened in your life IS the news alert?
We can’t render ourselves immune to fear. We are all vulnerable. And there truly are violent and threatening forces loose in the world. Fear will come. But what will come next? What will come next for you once fear has come?
How Resilient are you to a hit of fear? How soon do you recover from fear and return to equanimity? This resilience to fear may turn out to be the most crucial test of our character in times to come. It very well might make us or break us.
Imagine pressing your finger down into a cushion or pillow. Press down and make a dent in the surface. Now remove your finger. How long does the dent take to flatten itself again? How springy and restorative is your system after being hit by threatening forces?
I’ll tell you what’s not good or healthy for either the human psyche or for human society: If the dents that get made in our system don’t flatten out at all over time. If every dent remains a dent. If instead of having the characteristic of a resilient pillow, our psyche starts to resemble a tin plate that is easy to dent and easy to keep dented.
There are real threats in this world. But all in all, fear, especially sustained fear, is the bigger problem. A lack of resilience from a hit of fear is the real problem. Fear is the distortion in our system. Fear is the thing that deteriorates our clarity and purpose. It makes us forget who we want to be. Fear swiftly erases the blue prints we had drawn for the world we want to create and live in. Fear turns our perceptions into funhouse mirrors.
Fear skews our decisions.
Some of the bloodiest and bone-headed decisions human beings are likely to make are the decisions made under the lens of fear. The decision response that comes out of fear can be summed up in one primal and primitive directive: ‘DESTROY!’. This basic instinct is not without its uses. It serves us great if we are walking barefoot in the grass and come upon a poisonous snake. But beyond such straightforward survival scenarios, fear makes for a poor counselor. Fear prompts sloppy and disproportionate responses.
Let’s not kid ourselves — we do have real enemies in the world. You are not paranoid; they really are after you. There are individuals and group and regimes who are in fact sitting and planning your destruction this very moment. How do you think those red dots of mayhem end up on our map daily?
There are two big ways your enemies can destroy you.
1. By physically destroying you.
2. By psychologically destroying you.
Psychological destruction is far more efficient. You get a lot more bang for your buck. Psychological destruction is so much more pernicious than physical destructions that the ubiquitous strategy is to use physical destruction merely as a tool to create and amplify psychological destruction.
What is the basic nature of this psychological destruction? It is succeeding in creating a state of PERSISTENT FEAR in a people. It’s about creating not just a fear dent in someone’s system, but also rendering their psyche so brittle that it begins to represent a tin plate instead of a spongy cushion.
ESCHEW THE CULT OF VULNERABILITY
Reject the notion that you are constantly under threat.
Reject the belief that the forces against you are bigger and badder than you are. Stop playing the role of the underdog and the hapless victim.
Reject the notion that if you are not in fear or rage or indignation you will be less effective in the world, that you will be less effective in combating your enemies.
Reject your enemies’ attempt to trigger a sustained fear response in you.
Celebrate your resilience and strength; stop making a fetish out of your weakness.
Stop telling stories of the POWERFUL OTHER.
Stop telling stories of the EVIL OTHER. ‘Evil’ is a mighty flattering designation. If you have lableled your enemies ‘evil’, what are the odds really that you will be able to beat them?
If you insist on calling your enemies evil, then at least fess up that you are even more evil and dangerous than them. Because if they are evil and you are just an innocent lamb, then you are fucked.
I think the people of this country, and beyond, are entering a prolonged period where they will be prone to making very bad decisions. They are going to make stupid decisions. Their state of sustained fear will be the root cause of their deteriorating intelligence, their unclear perception, their blunt use of force, their amplified and disproportionate responses.
— Om Rupani