The vast majority of actions and institutions all around me are out of fear. Be it as it may, fear is not freedom.
Fear is stable. Fear is predictable. To chose non-fear is hard. Difficult. Fear sells. Fear convinces. It is easy to make fear look like “just human”, to make it compassion-worthy. Be it as it may, fear is not freedom.
It is not ideology that ties us to fear (nor Enlightenment, nor Logics, nor Neo-Liberalism/Neo-Socialism). It is not immorality (nor naughty, nor corrupt, nor ignorant). And, in any way, it is not an enemy to be fought.
I have long thought about dating and relationships and i’ve seen that everyone would be happier were they not lost behind a mask of fear of not being desirable enough. I thought about politics and i’ve seen fear of confessing you don’t know puts everyone holding tight to empty labels — parties, slogans, movements. I learnt everyone agrees with this argument until i take their own team or faith and show its emptiness, and then i am the enemy. And i long thought about many other things and behind them i have ever seen fear.
Fear is a ganglion. It is a small node in the middle of our brain, developed by ancestors long past, who may have looked like lizards. Somehow it worked like a switch: All energy to attack, or all energy to escape. Fight or Flee. In doubt, strike with everything or run as fast as you can. Intensity, but also duality, and also a very specific form of control. All of it being in me so ancient i can’t conceive without it as the fish can’t see the water.
The fear-switch worked: We’re still here. But it was not the only tool that worked. And more: In part it worked exactly because it inter-worked with other tools.
Fear permits language, for one. ‘TREE’ does not mean «tree», but fear holds on tight to the illusion, as if there was an abstract category of all trees. When someone says “tree” they might be thinking of a host of things, but fear reduces it to «tree». Instead of interpretation and richness of points of view, fear believes or calls it a lie, attacks or runs. Thus fear permits abstraction. But fear also reduces complexity, and language is complexity producing.
Fear is the gear inside of me tasked with picking an option quickly and never letting it go. It is present when i label someone or something and latter can’t see when it behaves different from that label. Fear is present when i make up expectations of how things or people should be and latter get depressed when they are more creative.
And there is a delicate balance between abstraction and complexity, but getting language is not like losing fear. Brain Cortex is not a different thing from the Lizard Brain, it is an outcropping of it. That inter-working is problematic, as fear massacres when it can, it turns all energy to attack, and today it can mean «nuke ’em».
The bets are higher. We have more to lose and more to gain. And everything hinges on the dimension of complexity. Today it is not enough to be so big, nor so full of money, nor so fast. To resist complexity you must become complex. And this need reinforces our need of the ancient tool: The Lizard Brain.
It’s a subtle trick: You need the strength of this impulse, you need this energy, thus you need the Lizard to work. At the same time, you need to control the impulse: To control what gives you the power of control. To learn to turn off the lizard.
The direct personal experience of that (no, it is not enough that you read about it, it means nothing to you until you try it), this control is a ritual. It is a small something you must do without thinking or rehearsing whenever fears strikes. It might be a verse (the second paragraph of this text works if you have nothing you prefer). It might be a posture of your body. It might even be counting to five (like Lost).
But that is the first step. To free yourself from your fear. To use your fear to free yourself. To structure life beyond fear. But more is needed.
We must free society of fear.
To structure society beyond fear. To weave relationships that are not based on the fear of losing the other (and then getting rid of jealousy and expectations and blame throwing). To build life projects not tainted by fear (thus more improvisational, since all rules are changing and not enough eyes are open). To articulate institutions that don’t require the recourse to fear (less hypocritical, less moralizing, less bureaucratic, less ideological, less dogmatic, less retrograde, less inert). And to give to those relationships and projects and institutions an history that overcomes fear (that seeks dream, that avoids mediocre, that prefers to just in case suppose there is something more). ¿Who knows?
Turn off the Lizard.
That’s a challenge!
After all, this is not empty idealism. It is not a myth born out of illustration. It is your brain. And it is like: «Between me and you, me». Automatically. But today this means: Develop yourself. Rely on yourself. Go beyond.