We discover very early in life to protect ourselves from harm. This urge towards self-protection is a primary energy, clear down to the cellular level. I think this urge is the primary basis for the emotion of fear. So fear is something we need to pay attention to.
Fear and self-protection go hand in hand. These two aspects of life cause us to build up fortresses around our lives. How many times danger has tried to breach the fortresses determines how strong and impenetrable our urges towards self-protection become. As a general rule, the time and energy we spend protecting ourselves determines how authentic and approachable we are.
These default urges of self-protection and fear ironically leave us open to the suggestions, by some, of the need to further build up our fortresses by exploiting our fears of the unfamiliar. Situations and people who are “not like us” are used as examples as to why we must fortify our fears. This fact of life is widely known and has been exploited for thousands of years. Yet, we often overlook it.
Certainly, it is wise to maintain a certain amount of alertness for self-preservation. Unfortunately, there are dangerous situations on our planet. It’s too bad there are also people who thrive on harming us and our surroundings. The question remains, for each of us to determine, personally, how much alertness and wariness we actually need in order to maintain and enjoy a happy, balanced life?
In today’s economic climate, many of us are haunted by the fear of poverty. These fears are justified by our small paychecks and the high prices we are charged for the basic needs of food and shelter.
It’s easy to become very emotionally defensive and self-protective of our material assets. This fear might show up as the tendency to keep a very tight rein on our cash. We become overly concerned or worried about money matters. Rightly prudent financial practices can rapidly degenerate into stinginess and greed. The fear of poverty metamorphes into extreme materialistic desire. Oddly enough, some of us become more willing to spend money on luxuries for ourselves while the getting is good, but only for ourselves, not others.
Likewise, the fearful economic climate can foster an over concern about career-building and property acquisition ahead of forming close, primary relationships with other people.
Some people have developed great skills in advancing themselves financially at the cost of honest, authentic connections with others. They may have plenty of acquaintences and friends, but there will always be the question, “Do they love me for who I am or do they love me for what I have?” This question further reenforces the self-protective urge to increase material acquisitions. Hence, more time and energy are spent strengthening the solid walls of work and financial responsibilities that form the prison-fortress of life.
We can see how this attitude can be projected into the larger sphere of national political policy. There is the perception that treasury funds should not be used to help people in need of assistance because of the risk of monetary loss. Examples are put forth about a minority of recipients misusing the funds, so political quarrels erupt. At the same time fears of enemies and terrorists are proliferated. The argument is made that not enough funds are being spent to defend the nation from enemies. The nation is told that it must spend every waking moment worrying about insurgents, enemies, and the possible harm that can occur. Eventually, vast amounts of energy, money and indebtedness are spent on national protection.
Soon, there are few, if any, funds left to spend on other parts of the national infrastructure and the edification of the country’s citizens. All that remains are the endless needs to fortify the fortress and worries about how to pay for it all. Positive life energy is diminished as more resources are diverted towards more fortress building.
These may seem to be simplistic views, but they form the general outline as to how primal fears and the urges towards self-protection can be turned against us. A general attitude of greed and stinginess embodies a clinging to past glories and alienation from others. The lack of trust and alienation balloon, in turn, the preoccupation over self-protection escalates ever more. The expansion feeds upon itself with more fear of failure and harm until the nation’s coherance implodes, or the country urgently understands that it must re-evaluate its priorities.
We can look at this simple outline of events and understand why we need a thoughtful balance between the “closedness” of self-protection and openness to fresh directions. When a person, and a nation come to realize that fear causes more problems than it can ever solve, a more open, generous, positive mindset can steer the way towards a more balanced nature.
There are many benefits to reap when a more wholesome balance is achieved and maintained. Finances begin to stabilize. Overall health improves. There is more happiness and real freedom. This leads to a more open attitude and genuine love is enabled.
At the same time, we know that life is not all rainbows and unicorns. Balance between working towards the ideal and maintaining self-protection is maintained by paying close, but not fearful, attention to what’s going on around us.
At least, this is what I’ve come to realize after thinking things over today.