Fear is a powerful motivator.
When one is afraid of something, no amount of logic can overcome it.
We’ve all had that experience, being gripped by fear. It takes over our mind, it directs our actions. Nothing else matters.
It’s just how we are wired — everything goes through the “emotional” brain before it gets to the “logical” brain.
Useful for survival when our great ancestors were in the forest or safari, facing a lion or a snake. The decision was simple – run or fight. No time to analyze relative probabilities of the outcome of several options. All our being is focused on the next split second of self-preservation.
We’re a long way from living in caves, but our brain is still wired the same. So when someone expresses a view that I sense is out of some fear, I know it’s pointless to use facts, statistics or any logic. Everything will be filtered to amplify the fear.
It’s no joke being afraid. When you are hiding quietly in an attic, afraid because someone broke into your house, every noise heightens your fear. Approaching footsteps will make your heart pound even if it could be someone from 911.
When one is afraid of catching a dreaded disease, every ache or discomfort is a confirmatory symptom, a breach of one’s defenses. Or in the opposite case, when one is afraid of the cure, every adverse reaction is a death threat.
How can people change? You can try a bigger fear — a punishment or a bigger threat. That’s how an arms race escalates, or how “them against us” leads people to hate and kill each other. Until everyone is looking at the brink and realize it’s going to kill everyone, like that riot scene in Squid Game.
Is there hope? Maybe. We’ve known people who overcame their fears for the sake of others, like the father who ran back into a burning house to save his baby. The answer is probably somewhere there. A motivator more powerful than fear.
So what’s the photo of the egret got to do with anything?
I started this post thinking about isolation, as the photo seemed to suggest to me. Then I asked, why is it isolated, is it afraid? Does fear lead to isolation?
Looking at the egret again, maybe it is not afraid, it just likes this little corner. It is at peace. In harmony with its surroundings.
I can use a little zen.