Most of us are unaware of the motives for our actions. We go through life on autopilot, so to speak, and rarely think about what causes us to do what we do, say what we say, and think what we think.
There is a good reason for it: No one wants to realize that the motivation for our actions is fear. We are in constant escape mode, and the thought of it is unbearable.
One of the next-door neighbors in the apartment building where I live is terrified of his bank. He is in terrible debt and the bank could block all his payments and standing orders any day. Another neighbor is terrified of the police. He was caught DUI and is afraid that the police will come search his apartment. But most of all, he is afraid that the police might walk into his office with search warrants and embarrass him in front of his coworkers.
“The trick to emerging from the depressing, sad state of our existence is to shift our focus from concentrating on ourselves to concentrating on others. Look at mothers concentrated on raising their children. Both human mothers and mothers in the animal kingdom set a great example of the courage and strength that they derive from caring for others, namely their young.”
We are all like that, afraid of something, of many somethings. We are afraid of what people will think of us and what they will say about us. We fear for our children on so many levels that we cannot even begin to describe it. We’re afraid of the virus, afraid of the climate, afraid of terrorists, afraid of being used by peers, coworkers and bosses, and we’re afraid for our future and the future of our children.
Concisely, we’re unwittingly meshed in a network of fears that fashions and determines our lives every single moment. Moreover, it is through this network that we feel that we are alive, that we exist. The pressures we get from everything around us—from minerals through plants and animals, to people—make us feel this world and ourselves within it.
However, it is a negative feeling. We’re afraid of everything. We’re trying to enjoy life but all we get are pressures from the government, the bank, the boss, the children, Social Security, you name it. We’re at a point where we consider ourselves happy if no one and nothing is bothering us. But this isn’t happiness; it is absence of suffering.
“We cannot stop being afraid; it is the way the world is built, and the way we are built. However, we can change the things that frighten us, which will in turn change our feelings.”
We cannot stop being afraid; it is the way the world is built, and the way we are built. However, we can change the things that frighten us, which will in turn change our feelings.
We are pleasure-seeking beings. We are afraid when we feel we might be hurt or not enjoy ourselves. Therefore, our fear is determined by what we want to enjoy. If we want to enjoy other things than the ones we want right now, we will be afraid of different things, and our whole worldview, and indeed our whole world, will change accordingly.
The trick to emerging from the depressing, sad state of our existence is to shift our focus from concentrating on ourselves to concentrating on others. Look at mothers concentrated on raising their children. Both human mothers and mothers in the animal kingdom set a great example of the courage and strength that they derive from caring for others, namely their young.
We should learn from this. A mother’s love comes naturally, but loving strangers takes training and practice, and broad social consensus to the process. Yet, this is what we need today, and desperately so. We need to learn to be afraid of not caring enough, not giving enough. Our pressure needs to be the pressure of loving mothers, the pressure that creates life, not the pressure of enemies wanting to destroy their adversaries. The latter is the pressure we feel now, and it is killing us and the world we live in.
We’re in a desperate state. Neither our planet nor humanity will be able to stand the negative pressure we put on each other and on the environment much longer. Unless we reverse our concerns and our fears from concern for ourselves to concern for others, our self-centered focus will bring upon us our own destruction.
For more on this topic, look up my book, Self-Interest vs. Altruism in the Global Era.