2019 Fearlessness Teacher, [an interview of R. Michael Fisher, by Kevin Barrett of Truth Jihad Radio at
Jan. 26, 2019. Then in the final half hour R. Michael Fisher, author of Fearless Engagement of Four Arrows: The True Story of an Indigenous-based Social Transformer joins the show. Michael recently wrote me:
Hey Kevin,… wanted to let you know I have responded on a 26 min. video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kuEEJltp0o to the “stand off” between Nick Sandmann (16 yr old white Catholic student) and Nathan Phillips (Indigenous elder) in Washington this past wknd… a viral spectacle event that needs to be brought into an educational context of higher grounds in learning about fear and fearlessness and their role in this world… hope you can take a peek at this and feel free to pass it on to others who might be interested in a fearanalysis of this event … -thanks, -M.
[Interview with RMF begins at the remaining 26:43 min. point of the full 90 min. show]
Bio: Dr. Kevin Barrett (KB) is a left-leaning Muslim anarchist, Ph.D. Arabist-Islamologist, holds advanced degrees in English Literature, French Literature, and African Literature, and is the author of multiple books which deconstructs the "war on terror". Dr. Barrett has been a Muslim since 1993. Blacklisted from teaching in the University of Wisconsin system since 2006 for questioning the events of 9/11, Dr. Barrett now hosts radio shows and is a public speaker.
KB: What’s a “Fearlessness Teacher”? Sounds like a great concept because, as we’ve been discussing it seems like people are being paralyzed by fear. How do you teach fearlessness? If you could patent that and put it in a medicine bottle and put it out there that’s pretty much what we all need. So, let’s get into it right now with R. Michael Fisher. How’s it going?
M: Hi Kevin. Well, there’s a notion that you’ll see every once in awhile in the literature, I just was reading a quote: “Fear is a disease of the mind, just as cancer is a disease of the body. And you know that has been around as a discourse or way of thinking about and imagining fear for quite awhile, and certainly the Western world. And so one of the things in my investigations on fear which started back in 1989 systematically, was that I found the Eastern views and then later I found that the Indigenous views don’t quite use that same kind of language, like “fear is a disease of the mind” and so on, it’s very catchy. And there’s no doubt some truth to it, Kevin, but I found it is a more nuanced game and so it’s a little harder to put in a bottle
KB: Interesting. In Islam of course, we want to inculcate [Arabic term] which is sometimes translated as pious God-fearingness, others would translate it as God-consciousness but there is an element of awe-struck, call it fear if you want but it is really a lot deeper than ordinary fear when you are dealing with [Arabic term] but we’re not really supposed to be dominated by our petty egotistical fears. That’s what we’re trying to get rid of as we overcome our ego, the evil- side of our ego, the ego that orders or commands evil. Do you see it that way? Our desiring egos that often desire things that are not so good, are the source of the lower consciousness out of which fear sort of operates?
M: Yeah, so the way I would look at that is that there’s a spirit of fearlessness in the world. I start with that assumption. What is that spirit of fearlessness? I start with this dictum, and this again comes from a lot of reading and thinking that when fear appears, which it will, so does the spirit of fearlessness with it. Which is sort of like that arising possibility of handling, managing and self-regulating fear because no organism wants to be in fear for too long. It’s just not healthy for the body right, it’s like distress as it starts to cause breakdown of the system.
KB: It’s like fight-flight response with all the adrenalin?
M: Yeah, That would be the sort of easy one that we recognize, sort of gross in a way, because it’s so powerful when you get that adrenalin hit, the flight-fight response and/or freeze and so but what I was interested in looking at is that ego is involved because ego is part of consciousness development. We start with a pre-egoic structure of consciousness, you could say, before the self is fully developed, so very early in life, and then the ego starts to develop and the it gets very attached to many things, and many traditions talk about the attachment of the ego as the real problem not the ego itself. That’s where you get this fear-based self-defensive always trying to maintain your self-esteem and trying to maintain that self-esteem within a particular mileu of a culture or a social structure....
KB: This sort of leads us to that topic of the confrontation on the national mall between the white high school kids the Native American elder with the drum.
M: Yeah, it definitely does and I call that in my classification system, along the spectrum of the spirit of fearlessness, there’s a spectrum, that one of the first stages is “No Fear” and that’s to me that stage basically before you are born, before you come out into the world and get your umbilical cord clipped and somebody puts you over here and all of a sudden the world’s cold, there’s bright lights and big noises so then we start entering the fear. So that first response to fear, via the spirit of fearlessness is what I call bravery. And that’s how I classified when I looked at that tape over and over again of this Catholic high school boy confronting the Indigenous person and I said wow, what a great example of bravery but I want to just add the nuance, like all things, good things like the spirit of fearlessness it can be twisted, it can turn into a more pathological and/or immature form. And so the bravery that was really arising, was because he [the Catholic youth], this is my definition of it really, Kevin, bravery is when you sort of do things that you aren’t really planning or expecting to do and you just happen to be there in the right place and the right moment and something comes out of you and you do it, some sort of very brave act. However, later you look back and say, and actually this young man said this in an interview, I kind of wished I didn’t do that, like I kind of wish we would have backed-off and went our own way. So he did it, why? Because of the environmental condition of social reinforcement or positive reinforcement....
KB: So let’s get empirical here about what your interpretation is of sort of what really happened here. So, the original assumption, when people saw this picture or brief video, was that they thought that this gang of Trump loving high school kids had sort of surrounded and harassed the Native American Elder and had gotten in his face and he responded by just drumming. Which makes him the hero and the white Catholic school boys are the bad guys. But then it turns out that the Native American guy had actually gotten in the face of that white kid, he approached him drumming drumming drumming up to his face and the white kid had just not backed down and just stood there. Which my first hour guest Kevin MacDonald sees the white kid as being heroic. But to me this is kind of an interesting confrontation of these two sides that are confronting someone that they find, perhaps, fear-inducing and that they don’t understand and in a sense they are both heroic. They are kind of just standing there and not backing down, doing their thing. But at the same time there’s kind of a problem in that their not communicating empathetically and rationally, their coming out of tribal egos, so what’s your interpretation?
M: I think that’s a really good point, that they did both move into bravery for various reasons and so we could analyze that but what I was then interested in was when does bravery move to courage or courageousness? And even a moral courageousness? And then when does courageousness move into fearlessness? And this is what Four Arrows and I, from the Indigenous perspective he studies, is what is that shift? And what I would say the big shift of difference was that the young man, he’s basically got all his guys cheering behind him, you know 200 or whatever, so he’s going to be heroic in that moment in what I’d call bravery. But not necessarily he took a lot of time or thought to think internally and develop this kind of moral courageousness that could take him to a possible point of fearlessness, which in fearlessness the whole motive is then to connect to make a connection in relationality in a communication for higher possibility for higher integration beyond those egos, beyond even those ethnic, cultural backgrounds, value structures, left – right, whatever it might be, secular or Christian vs. Indigenous etc. And so I think the Indigenous elder was in quite a different positioning, even though he stepped forward he felt he needed to do this and he was moving toward he thought was probably the higher moral ground and I would say that was fearlessness because he stayed in the communication of connection to his ancestors and a spiritual sacred song. And that song was a song basically of, yes, we’re here to resist oppression but also here to connect and create unity, and he actually said that at one point. Connect-unity. This is a song of unity that I sang. Well, the young man did not have all that thought going on, he had a lot of adrenalin and a whole lot of adrenalin behind him. It makes sense, it’s kind of like the sports team, it could be war team ready to pump themselves up to get ready to go out and do the heroic battle.
KB: Interesting analysis. I think the Native American guy, the drummer, said, that what he thought he was doing was protecting these black Israelites or something there was kind of a hand-full of these young black who were caught on video yelling insults at the white high school boys but of course they were grossly out-numbered by the white high school boys and so the Native American guy thought he was protecting those black guys. So it’s a very interesting kind of situation where it’s not that clear how it developed. It’s not like an obvious good guys vs. bad guys or aggressors vs. defenders kind of situation.
M: And that really brings me to, I think it is great to discuss this on media itself because of what media does with these kinds of spectacles. I mean I am saying it is an important spectacle but if we just stay with the spectacle of who’s the good guy, who’s the bad guy, who’s the real hero, who’s is not. Well, those are really ancient very simple binary narratives of what is going on. And what I was much more interested in, and that’s why I am glad to talk to you on air about this, what do those kinds of narratives and discussions, if you just put all that media together in one big ball, I look at it from my point of view as a fearologist, and I call myself that, self-defined, is that I go, the level of conversation about understanding fear and this path that I’ve arced out from bravery to courage to fearlessness and even to fearless at the highest level of maturity and consciousness. It just shows me that we don’t have a vocabulary for it in the West, is my argument, and that is what my work is about is trying to get more discernment about when is it bravery, when is it moving to courageousness, when is it moving to fearlessness? And again, it’s not like that’s good and that’s bad it’s like it’s actually developmental and that’s the discernment I think we need, is we need to see the developmental differences and then we need to teach that. Those young guys, I’d love to see them have a curriculum that actually helps them understand the nature and role of fear, how fear becomes part of a psychological, biological complex and then is also a part of a cultural and political complex and the history with it. And then how is that different than say to the Indigenous perspective and how they’ve come to understand fear. And, what I wanted to say right at the beginning is that the Indigenous Peoples, as Four Arrows and others have summarized in general, and Indigenous perspective, not to disrespect the diversity and differences in Indigenous Peoples, but fear is seen as the opportunity to a higher virtue. It’s the opportunity to practice a higher virtue. And you can see that right, it’s even in the West, in the more dominant culture of yeah it’s good to be courageous, we generally think that is a cool thing to be heroic but what we don’t understand is that that is not the end of the road. That’s not the end of the developmental spectrum, that I’m speaking to. That’s why I think we need to bring in this language of Fearlessness and even Fearless. I arc that out in my writing and research.
KB: Very interesting stuff. Abdul Arif Muhammad in the ½ hr before you were on said that he thinks the war on free speech, which is what I talked about with Keven MacDonald in the first hour, is driven by these false flag events, and war-trigger events, that put us on a war footing and made us feel like we were under attack, 9/11 of course being the classic example, but just hard-wired the average American’s nervous system to be much more fearful. Martha Stout, has written a book called the “Paranoia Switch” in which she cites research that about ½ of the population of the US developed clinical post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] from watching those 9/11 images on television, so talk about a jolt of fear to the nervous system, 9/11 probably impacted the human nervous system more than any other event in history. And that fear that was intentionally injected into the world, and especially Americans on 9/11, as part of this very carefully thought out orchestrated false flag operation set the stage for the police-state, the fear-based police-state we’ve been living in ever since. When you go to the airport and the color-code for terror is up to Orange and been color-coded for Orange now for years if not decades; I can’t remember before we were living in a state of permanent Orange fear-color-coding. So, I think that your work on fear is probably more timely than ever, unfortunately.
M: Yeah, unfortunately. You know I was just talking to a Canadian friend, I would call her a liberal friend, very intelligent lady, and I was saying I’m trying to develop this program to make people more aware of how fear rules and controls our life, again, not just in a psychological level but sociological, political, historically, and that we could move from this notion of a culture of fear to actually bring in a vision and imaginary for a culture of fearlessness. What would that be like? So, I was talking to her just briefly on the phone and she said, well I don’t think most people actually think that fear rules their life. And I had to stop, and thought, if I was living in America, which I was in the last 9 years, before last year, I don’t think an American would say that so readily. And I thought is that part of being the Canadian, we’re neutral, quiet and hide, and I’m a Canadian, I live in Canada right now, and I just thought I think there is a huge difference between Canadian perspective and awareness and I actually think it is actually a bad thing in the sense that I think Americans are at least much more woken up, sorry you had to go through that guys and folks, you know the post-traumatic stuff but you know that’s the wake-up, that’s the symptom arising for the new possibility. So, if I go back to the Indigenous perspective, that wake up that post-traumatic we can look at it as all negative, negative, negative, that’s a typical Western clinical view, and then we can look at it as “whoa!” This is actually in the Indigenous perspective, the door way the possibility for this new [level] trajectory of the spirit of fearlessness, that arises in all that intense fear. So, when I see someone like that Indigenous elder drumming in a very heated, very potentially dangerous situation, and he said I’m afraid, I’m scared, like I was scared going out there—but he took a positionality of unity and utilized that fear in the virtue of both courageousness in a moral sense, and I would say onto the gift of fearlessness because really, I said to my wife, you know why those young guys are having so much trouble with him is because, they were so anxious, so anxious because they didn’t know how to code. They didn’t know how to communication code with this drumming scene from this Indigenous person, more or less, they tried to sort of dance a bit, they clapped a bit, you could see they would try and get into it. But then they got more into the jeering and the making fun of and I said that’s the moment they don’t understand where this is going. They actually don’t understand fearlessness and that’s very typical because they’re not educated to do so. Something like that would be my hypothesis.
KB: That’s a really interesting analysis. It departs from the partisan take on this...
KB: Where you have the certain sort of Left anti-Trump side that’s totally demonizing the kids and making the Native American guy out to be totally the hero, versus the other side, Kevin MacDonald seemed to see it pretty much the other way. I like your take, seeing the overall reactions from both sides and the fear and fearlessness, overcoming the fear, from both sides. That’s actually a much more interesting, and probably more accurate, way to look at it. It reminds me, of what you are saying about needing that injection of fear, having to go through that PTSD, actually having benefits, for US Americans. That reminds me of the plot line in “V for Vendetta” [movie] which is really about the female character EV getting over her fear. When the film opens she’s about to be raped by vicious goons from the National Security State, set up on the back of a 9/11 style false flag, and she goes through all this horror and trauma and emerges being trained in fearlessness by the comic book hero V. That film is about, what it is of course a dream-like meditation on the American people being traumatized by 9/11 and then hopefully waking up and becoming totally fearless and having a revolution. Of course, it is a dream fantasy and unfortunately that revolution hasn’t yet happened in reality but it’s a pretty good wish-fulfillment fantasy. So, yeah I think that trauma is there, it’s not just a crippling thing, trauma can also be a way to get over fear and get into that state of fearlessness and do great things. It seems like that is where your work is leading?
M: Yeah, it’s going to move us. You might not jump into Fearless right away. You might not jump into the fearlessness practices right away and capability. But you certainly will start moving along that direction when you take it on, right you take on that fear, even that terror. And you take it on as this is the challenge. This is the opportunity. And, again, unfortunately we don’t quite have a good worldview for that, usually what we try do with out worldview, Western worldview I’m talking about more in the modern sense, is try to eliminate that enemy, that Other, who is bringing up all that fear. And so you gotta find the scapegoat target and try to destroy it. And that just keeps us way way in a very immature state, and that’s not like a criticism, oh you’re all immature blah blah, no I’m not saying that, I’m just saying compassionately it will keep us in an immature state in relationship to this spirit of fearlessness and this movement from No Fear, to Bravery, to Courageousness, to Fearlessness to Fearless. So you can see why I arc that out and repeat that Kevin, is because we don’t have that imaginary. You called it sort of a fantasy, right through V for Vendetta, which I love that movie, for it was a transformation, a transformation that was both internal and it had possibilities for the external, we got to watch it in the fiction, that’s what art is for. Thank goodness. And yet that imaginary is still working. It actually starts our new vocabulary, a new imaginary for possibilities, so I like to use expanding our imaginary on fear and fearlessness and yes, if you want to call it a fantasy in a way that’s maybe useful to but I actually think it is getting imagination for the possibility and unfortunately in the West, for example if I was to pick up the Bible, if I was to pick up pretty much any of the Abrahamic traditions and I’ve looked, they don’t have the word fearlessness, at least not when interpreted in English, I’m not a scholar in that direction, but you won’t find the word fearlessness in there, is what you get over and over is “Fear Not!” or “Be Not Afraid!” Well what’s that about? That’s saying we are meant in this deepest spiritual part of ourselves to follow this path, this path of Fearlessness, but not a lot of nuance in those literatures, and that’s just because of where they come from, in their time and their history, the information they were drawing upon, but I use that term path of Fearlessness as a developmental process.
KB: Very interesting. Anyways, in Islam there’s the phrase “they will fear not, neither shall they grieve” which is about the state the good people get to and I think that it is both getting to paradise but it’s also about that state of [Arabic term ?] meaning peaceful soul, which is really what Islam is about getting to in this life, is having a peaceful soul. And those that get to that ... they’ll fear not neither shall they grieve. So you founded fearology [laughs], as a ...
KB: I wonder how that intersects with Lt. Dave Grossman’s killology? The US Army guy who studied killing and what people go through. All the research shows that the vast majority of soldiers have never been able to kill. They have to have the extreme Pavlovian conditioning to get the majority of soldiers to be able to kill. In Korea, half of the US soldiers would purposely try to kill up from 10% in World War II. And by Vietnam it was 80-90% but they came back with horrible trauma. So, anyways, the killology is really interesting stuff. Grossman’s book “On Killing” is absolutely essential. So, how does fearology intersect with killology?
M: Well certainly, I actually communicated with Mr. Grossman quite a few years ago because I was fascinated with his idea and we had some correspondence and he sent me his audio tape. Yeah, he talks about fear as well and he also talks about really what I saw as a state, a state we have to obtain in order to hold that gun, have your intention, and be very clear of what you are doing. If you don’t have that consciousness, that awareness, rather than I can just go kill somebody, no it’s actually be aware that you are going to be a killer and you better know how to be a killer otherwise get out of that business. So his training was I think quite along the lines of fearlessness. I actually found him very respectful in his work. What he didn’t do, where fearology takes off, and fearology develops this notion that true fearlessness, one of its main features is, to learn and know and study everything about fear that you can, in an ongoing sense, there is never an end to it and that to me is the sacred commitment to both healing and developing to our highest potential. And I think the Biblical quotes or the quotes you just gave from your tradition and background, I think that’s what it means, it means without grief, that to me I resonate with as, that means that I’ve done my grieving work, I don’t hold myself in an immature state of unhealed grief because that will cause constant fear-based life. So, something like that.
KB: That’s beautiful. You know I need to look at your books, I haven’t had a chance to read them yet. I’ve seen your video and Fearless Engagement of Four Arrows, sounds great. Four Arrows is a hero of mine. He’s one of the really great figures to come out of the 9/11 Truth Movement. Anybody who doesn’t know about him should learn about him. Maybe your book would be a good place to start?
M: I think it is a nice one. It’s an intellectual biography, so it is called Fearless Engagement of Four Arrows: The True Story of an Indigenous-based Social Transformer, it was a 2.5 yr project of him and I sending a lot of emails back and forth, and me studying his work and I would definitely say he is probably one of the most advanced thinkers from a fearologist’s point of view, on fear today. Because he integrates the East, the West, he integrates all his military background, his training with horse and wild horses, extreme sports, he’s a hypnotherapist, he just has this great richness, and that’s why that book was so fun. So there’s a lot of stories in there but then there’s also my theory and my framework so I think a reader could kinda get enough of me but enough of Four Arrows to make an interesting read, not so theoretical.
KB: Well, I’m going to try and get my hands on it. Hey thanks so much Michael Fisher, I appreciate your very interesting stimulating work and I’m planning to learn about more of it and read your book and I’ll probably get you back on the air to talk about it.