A stranger more muscular than me strikes fear in my brain.
I quickly assess the environment. Is ‘fight or flight’ the better option? Is there a weapon nearby? Are either of us in a more vulnerable position than the other? Would I be able to give him a quick jab to the throat, or some other debilitating maneuver before he could get the upper hand on me? The entire chain of thought takes about one second.
I am in good physical condition. I am dedicated to a healthy diet & exercise. I am not a trained fighter, but I am confident that I could kill another person with my bare hands if I really needed to.
I am peaceful. I don’t want to hurt anyone. My parents never hit me, or each other. I never got beat up at school. There were no bullets in my neighborhood. I have never needed to use extreme violence.
Why is this thought pattern of violence ingrained into my brain? What triggers it? Why am I afraid of other humans?
I believe there is both a real and a false fear to be distinguished here.
Real Fear is my natural fear of death or injury. I am an animal. My body is wired to act this way. To seek resources, to run, to jump, to mate, and yes – to fight & defend, when needed. My thought patterns are part of my body and part of its necessary system of fear, adrenaline, and response to danger. If real danger ever presents itself, I am prepared for it. This is a good thing. It is also a good thing to keep my body physically and mentally sharp. To be alert, to be on the lookout for danger.
False Fear is everything else – which is a lot. It’s more than I can summarize in this blog post. It is pervasive throughout our society. It is manufactured, advertised, marketed, mongered, absorbed, embedded, confused with real fear, and repeated, and then repeated again and again.
I have ingrained false fears into my own thinking. I have allowed them to push their way in over time.
I am not in a state of real danger. Most people on the street are not out to attack or kill me. The world is not going to be overrun with zombies. The United States is not going to be invaded by a ground army of foreign enemies. I do not need to maintain a small armory in my house.
There are many humans who live in real danger. There are places that are war zones.
It is my duty to stop worrying about myself, and start thinking about how I can help them. If I want the world to be rid of violence, then I must actively partake in the ridding. If I sit passively then I am part of the problem. Even when the problem is not in my backyard.