Many of us when looking at the behavior of our fellow human beings are at a loss to explain what’s happening. Why so much anger, so much violence, so many suicides, so much fear? Speaking of fear, one of the most insightful observations regarding fear was uttered by the American president FDR. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
And speaking of politicians. Demagogues have always relied on fear to control their constituencies. But do we the citizens, the voters, understand why we salivate when our leaders wave the meat of fear under our nostrils?
Let’s begin by looking at our Darwinian “survival of the fittest” competitive conditioning. The energy that fuels our conditioned behaviors resides in the false self or ego-centered survival strategies. The three dominant motivators of our behavior involve the pursuit of:
- Plenty (accumulating material wealth giving the illusion of security)
- Pleasure (distractions giving the illusion of pleasure to mask anxiety and suffering)
- Power (giving the illusion of controlling people and events in our lives)
Tyrants and demagogues who understand the source of human fear can easily select issues and inflammatory rhetoric to mobilize supporters who feel that their false-self survival strategies are being threatened. And most of us at some level suspect that our behavior is not delivering the promised benefits. This is the source of an enormous amount of fear. No matter how much “stuff” we acquire we do not feel safe. No matter how much pseudo-power we express, we learn that we can’t control anyone or any “thing.” No matter how much pleasure we provide for ourselves it always turns out to be suffering in disguise.
During the recent (October 2018) hearings in the Senate to seat now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, for example, Senator Lindsey Graham had a Freudian slip as it were. “Boy, you all want power.” Of course, he was right about his Democratic colleagues and finished with, “God, I hope you never get it.” (1) The truth is, no one has power and no one needs it to live a fulfilling life on this planet today.
If this sounds strange, click on the link below for a complete explanation.
Insight # 56: We meet our destiny on the road we take to avoid it. — C. G. Jung
- Afflictive Emotions on this blog and in the printed book The ABCs of Simple Reality, Vol 1, by Roy Charles Henry, page 17.
- Bruni, Frank. “The Saddest Story in Washington.” The New York Times Sunday. October 7, 2018, page 4.