Fear – the mover and shaker of civilisations, affecting all, including the most powerful of people. Maybe we forget how much it shapes our leaders today – fear of the loss of power (wealth), fear of national security, but most importantly fear of falling behind where we are today. Take Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In its most basic form there are five rising stages: physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, esteem needs and finally self actualisation. I want to focus on the first two stages, defining them below:
- Biological and Physiological needs – air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep.
- Safety needs – protection from elements, security, order, law, limits, stability, freedom from fear.
The first need we can easily associate and recognise in the third world, for example poor African communities fighting for their lives, fighting for survival. The second need we see in developed countries or developing countries. The last phrase bubbles questions to the surface. “Freedom from fear.” Is that even possible in today’s society? And if that were true, have we as a society ever ascended from the 2nd stage yet? Some may argue that the formation of the United Nations and the EU paved a route for our ascension into the 3rd stage of love and belonging, which can be defined as:
- Love and belongingness needs – friendship, intimacy, trust and acceptance, receiving and giving affection and love. Affiliating, being part of a group (family, friends, work).
I believe that this was the intention of these organisations but they got lost along the way. The United Nations and EU were formed through the fear of another war and decided to “embrace” each other to promote unity. However, once the going got tough – especially after the 2008 recession – countries turned inward and strayed far from the idea of love and belonging. Germany bickered about bailing out Greece, Greece bickered about Germany, countries threatened to leave the EU and then finally Great Britain voted to leave in 2016. We had switched to fear again.
We are not free from this fear, as even in peace we continue to arm. George Washington once said, if you want peace prepare for war. The USA illustrates this philosophy through their military build up in Asia and the Pacific to confront China. Imagine if you are Chinese, and the most powerful nation in the world begins to surround and entrap you. Isn’t it fair to say, even if the Chinese did not regard the USA to be their enemy that they too would prepare for war now? That’s why the Chinese are investing in a blue water navy because they fear, they fear for the progress they have made to be taken away. But China fear India – just as the USA fear China – it annexation of Tibet highlights this theory. Without annexing Tibet, they are fearful of the emerging India possibly acquiring a strategic military advantage in the Himalayas through possible negotiations with a free independent Tibet. Through their fear, China could not allow this. India a country with a population of over a billion is fearful of its neighbours to the west – Pakistan – who boast nuclear weapons. The list goes on.
We are still not free from fear as a society. This is not to say that certain groups or individuals have not transcended the stages of Maslow’s hierarchal of needs, but as a global society we have not. The USA, the most powerful country in the world has not illuminated a path for each country to follow. It’s country’s elite (the mega rich) lead through fear. The elite are clinging on to their power (through fear of losing it), that they use fear to retain their place in society. The more powerful or richer they become the more fearful they are of losing it all. President elect Trump led a campaign through fear, using the former chairman of Breitbart news to instil fear in the people of America, that as a nation, they were no longer “great.” After winning the election, Trump is forming one of the most elite and richest administrations ever, to further cling onto power. Oil fears that it will be bested by renewable concepts. They understand that in reality renewable concepts are far better for the environment, but more importantly can offer an attractive investment financially as renewable energy can provide an endless, constant revenue stream. But they are invested in Oil and until they divest from Oil, the industry will continue to keep the richest in power – the appointment of Rex Tillerson (former CEO of ExxonMobil from 2006-2016) for Secretary of State underlines this point .
As you can see, the world is in a shadow of fear. You hear the talk from people like Russell Brand or even other perceived “hippies” about the awakening or rise in consciousness or even our next path of human evolution. They are not wrong. But maybe we do not listen because of the way it is being presented or how they are mocked by mass media (who are owned and controlled by the rich). In any form of education the best way to spread a message is to simplify it. Transcending to the third stage of the hierarchal pyramid requires us as a collective society to free ourselves from fear. Companies around the world are freeing people from fear and forming cooperatives. Mondragon, a Spanish cooperative, operates in a suffering Spanish economy. It protects its employees through an innovative system that draws profits from successful businesses within the cooperative to support other businesses within the cooperative that are suffering. It is time for governments to integrate these characteristics from cooperatives into its internal and foreign policies, so we can finally release the fear that binds us in this never ending upward struggle towards war and peace, then war and peace and so forth.
Some may argue that fear is a necessary evil that helped shape civilisations to what they are today. They are not wrong, but what people forget is that fear destroyed those civilisations. Power rises and then it falls. Look at the Roman Empire, the British Empire, the Mongolian Empire, the Russian Empire, etc. They all rose and then all collapsed. All empires are created and then destroyed by fear because they never transcend to the third evolutionary stage – love and belonging. Religions preach it – love thy neighbour. Maybe we should wake up and take notice to start applying this today.
2016 was a alarm clock ringing in our ears to change the way we deal with our fears. Do we give our fear power? Or do we just accept that we feel our fear, move on and ignore it like it never really existed? Accept and acknowledge your fear and then move on. Do not let it hold power over you and your actions. Your greatest gift is that you can choose the reality you live in. Once you leave that fear behind, it does not control you. And if fear does not control you, then others cannot use fear to control you either. Once, as a collective society, we become free from fear, we can create a better tomorrow. But if we continue to let that fear rule, we will continue around this endless loop of chaos.