This season’s most entertaining reality show is not American Idol. Nor is it The Voice or any of the other offerings from the networks’ brain trust. No, it’s the series of debates featuring Republican presidential hopefuls that have been airing on various channels since May of 2011. So far, in 25 episodes, er, debates, we’ve seen several candidates voted off the island: Pawlenty, Johnson, Bachmann, Perry, Huntsman. Oh, and the pizza guy. The cast is down to four and soon to be three.
As world developments shape the topics, fear is coming to the front. Fear of economic collapse, fear of terrorism, fear of a nuclear Iran — all are fodder for pundits’ questions and contestants’ responses. All the candidates except one are in saber-rattling stance and threatening military action to keep Iran from brandishing the Bomb. One candidate in particular has been labeled an Islamaphobe and favors pre-emptive bombing, saying “the world would be a far more dangerous place if the nation of Iran had a nuclear weapon.” Yet, while three of the four remaining debate participants advocate bombing Iran, only one has pointed out that the world clearly would be a far more dangerous place if the United States were to commence an unprovoked war upon yet another Middle East country. If the United States were to preemptively bomb Iran, the world would definitely be a far more dangerous place. Fear of one possibility has obscured another outcome, perpetuating conflict, that is even more likely. Such is the masking fog of fear.
Fear Factor It’s ironic, but the debate broadcast by NBC on Monday, January 23, pre-empted the network’s series Fear Factor. How appropriate. Fear will play a role in this reality show called the 2012 Election for the remainder of its run on network television.
Another plank in the candidates’ platform is generally agreed that government should be smaller, less intrusive on peoples’ lives. One buzz-phrase is that the country “should be run from the bottom up, not the top down.” That concept also holds true if we want to see fear leave the conversation because in order to banish fear from the world stage, we have to first deny its reality as individuals. To quote an aphorism, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Fear incapacitates. Fear sickens. It wreaks havoc with an immune system. It constricts heart arteries and can be an instant contributor to heart attack. Fear kills. It kills on the world stage and it kills on the personal proscenium. Fear lessens our ability to respond to any situation. It is an empty and pointless emotion. And it is within our ability to eliminate it. Fear doesn’t come from someone else’s action. It comes from what we think about someone else’s action.
In another irony, those who are fearful actually argue that fear is a useful emotion. They contend that fear keeps us from doing something dangerous. But the fearless respond that love keeps us doing things that are safe. Just another example of how fear obscures love.
It is typical that we think that we cannot control our thoughts. It is typical that we think it difficult. That is because it is typical that we neglect to train our mind. Not to mention that we find it easy to downplay our own power and therefore responsibility. Indeed, if we want to master our thoughts, it requires a little practice. But the mind is the canvas upon which we must render this new image. Our thoughts are the oils of our palette. Create a frame of reference that is an alternative to the bombardment of the thousands of fearful thoughts we entertain daily. Only the individual can do that. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be created. It already exists. It is the peace of mind that is revealed when one shifts attention away from the constant stream of fear thoughts seen each day.
Angels and Badmen There are several ways to eliminate fearful thoughts and move toward peace. The first step is learning how to still the mind. The loudest source of fear thoughts comes through the conscious, intellectual mind. That makes sense because it’s the part of the mind that we trained to interface with all the busy-ness of the world. And it’s obvious to anyone who watches a news program that the world is obsessed and busy with fear. This doesn’t mean the answer is in inactivity or some sort of zombie-like state of perpetual meditation; quite the contrary. People who free themselves from the shackles of fearful thoughts become more active, more productive and more creative. Fear paralyzes. Freedom from fear elates and jubilates.
The idea of self-determination and the impact of fear on our lives isn’t a novel idea. The number of opportunities to learn these concepts is amazing. Popular movies are often pointing out the folly of fears. Take the 1945 Western called “The Angel and the Bad Man.” John Wayne stars as a wounded outlaw taken in by a family of Quakers. His saviors nurse him back to health and he notices a wall plaque in their home.
The movie features this exchange between Wayne’s character and the pretty Quaker woman caring for him:
Wayne, reading the plaque: “What’s that mean ‘Each human being has an integrity that can be hurt only by the act of that same human being and not by the act of another human being’? You mean nobody can hurt you but yourself?”
Quaker: “That’s what we Quakers believe.”
Wayne: “Well, suppose somebody whacks you over the head with a branding iron. Won’t that hurt?”
Quaker: “Physically, of course. But in reality it would injure only the person doing the act of force or violence. Only the doer can be hurt by mean or evil act.”
Wayne: “Are there very many of you Quakers?”
Quaker: “Very few.”
Wayne: “Sort of figured that.”
The fearless may be few but it’s time to renew.
Heartland Healing examines various alternative forms of healing. It is provided as a source of information, not as medical advice. It is not an endorsement of any particular therapy, either by the writer or The Reader. Access past columns at www.HeartlandHealing.com