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FEAR IS THE CAUSE OF MURDER, VIOLENCE AND WAR

          (Socrates seems to have spent most of his time in the agora, or marketplace, discussing all sorts of things.)                        

An interview conducted by a Nepalese journalist, Raj Sargam of the Nepal Time Magazine with Desh Subba, the founder of Fearism Movement.

Date: 1st September 2018,

Trans. by Desh Subba

Edited by Michael Bassey Eneyo 

Socrates ran Agora school [teaching in the market places].

Plato ran academy, while Aristotle ran Lyceum.

Philosophers from France and Germany ran schools in tea and coffee houses. 

Desh Subba is a poet, novelist and a philosopher from Nepal. He has been working on the development of "Philosophy of Fearism" for some years now. "The Tribesmen's Journey to Fearlessness" is his first Fearism-based novel. He is on the course of introducing Fearism [philosophy] through poem, drama and epic. In the interview published in Nepal Time Magazine, Raj Sargam began the interview by asking Desh Subba how Fearism as a school of thought can handle the problem of fear which seems to be fundamental to every life. Below is the interview. 

Raj: I know it is true that everybody has one kind of fear or the other. I equally believe that the young generations are suffering from depression. How does Fearism handle such problems?

Desh: Fear is natural to human beings. No matter our level of exposure, we cannot completely eliminate fear. Fearism as a movement is focusing on how human beings can understand fear more insightfully, how fear can be controlled, managed and applied for the good of human beings. We have read classical philosophies regarding states, citizens, capitalism, struggles, happiness and pleasure. If we should get to the root of all these philosophies, we will see that none of them has really emphasised on the importance of fear. We can take example from the "Ring of Gyges" mentioned in the Republic of Plato. This mythical and magical ring saves people from fear of being caught and punished when they do something wrong. But even at that, nobody actually acknowledged the importance or the role fear in the affairs of human beings. 

The entire world and its life can be looked at with the eyes of fear [Fearism lens]. It is not only the new generations that are suffering from fear; our ancestors were also suffering from it. Invention of stone weapons, dwelling in the cage and the worship of nature were parts of the witnesses to the influence of fear in the ancient period. We are in continuation of the same fearful influence. But today, it is manifesting in the mask of modernism. 

I have said elsewhere that each era is an era of extreme fear, because each era carries its optimum level of knowledge, rationality and invention which are motivated by fear. The difference between the past and the present level of fear is shown in different ways through which human beings have adopted in the attempts to better their lives. The ancient period was not such a competitive and a corporate society as it is today. In our present generation, we have witnessed so many competitions: among students, in the areas of sports, employment, acquisition of wealth, among peers, family members, colleagues in the office, market men/women, etc. There’re so much depressions today. Depression begins anytime we fail to achieve any of our expectations. When this is the case, all the experiences during these periods increase our fears. 

But then, depression is not limited to the scope of depression, it expands beyond. It creates more hazardous situations. I know people often mention sources of hazardous situations, but nobody seems to have mentioned fear as part of it. This may have been predicated on the fact that we didn’t have theory that can explain the workings of fear. After the development of Fearism Movement, Fearism traditions began to spring up. One of the Fearism dictums says: "Don't keep fear of competition an irrelevant prestige." Avoidance of unnecessary competition, desire and interest keep us safe from depression and mental sickness. So Fearism provide the methods that can help human beings handle the challenges of fear and depression. 

Raj: You are trying to establish Fearism with the help of Fearism Study Centre. What will be the role of Fearism activities in Nepalese’s literature?

Desh: In any serious philosophical movement, there is always a tradition of schooling. Socrates ran Agora school [teaching in the market places]. Plato ran academy, while Aristotle ran Lyceum. Philosophers from France and Germany ran schools in tea and coffee houses. 

When a person becomes famous in his philosophy, such philosophy will certainly convert into school. It is my belief that to establish Fearism, we need a school [i.e. we need fear education] and Fearism Study Centre is our school. 

Fearism Study Centre is not only domiciling in Nepal, it will soon kick start in Nigeria. It is going to be run by Nigerian philosopher Osinakachi Akuma Kalu and his friends Michael Eneyo, Augustus Chukwu and others who have shown commitment in Fearism Movement. It is still in its starting phase, it would be extended to other countries as time goes on. At present, R. Michael Fisher has founded The Fearology Institute in Canada which is an integral part of Fearism.

Nepalese’s literature is traditionally divided into group(ism) and not into the formal method of schooling. The formal pattern of schooling gives more knowledge. My ambition has been to take Fearism beyond the Nepalese’s traditional literary circle and that ambition is already yielding positive result as you can see. 

Raj: In following Fearism as your new discovered paradigm, are you not missing poem and novel writings?

Desh: yes! At the surface, I missed them, but in a more critical look, I am still doing them under Fearism [though in a subtle manner]. Literature has multiple genres, but Philosophy is above all literary genres. Story, poem, essay and epic cannot sustain for a long time if they are not rooted in a given philosophy. Writing or any form of theory can only be sustained if it is rooted in a strong philosophy. I have potentialities of many writing genres. But in the face of philosophy, other genres are dimmed. If one man has many genres, he will likely be addressed by the one he is noted to doing better and not by all the genres. Jean Paul Sartre had many writings, but people addressed him as a Philosopher. 

Raj: You used to say Fearism is isolated philosophy. How do you mean and to what extent is the influence of Fearism apart from in Nepal?

Desh: Actually, I don't have deeper understanding of this saying of Nepalese believers: "Dark underneath the lamp." Fearism to me is isolated philosophy in Nepal because we do not really have many philosophers here working to develop contemporary philosophies. Fearism Movement goes beyond our home philosophy which is embedded in our culture.  We often talked about culture at home, but our literature and philosophy are not separated from our culture. This makes it somewhat difficult to say that we have a philosophy of our own. It is not right to expect a highly philosophical culture in those countries where the culture of doing philosophy is not developed. 

Professors are in competition to be the first follower of western philosophy.

 They dream to be the first followers and never dreaming to be leaders of new ideas or philosophy.

Here in Nepal, we have less leading characters; we only have people with the mentality of wanting to be good followers. Professors are in competition to be the first follower of western philosophy.  They dream to be the first followers and never dreaming to be leaders of new ideas or philosophy. This is the reason I said Fearism is in far distance among professors and students of Nepal. 

Edward Said had opined: "Westerns have a capacity to define eastern." We imbibe the culture of followership; we follow the culture of the west. When they say, “You are stupid and arrogance” we nod our heads and answer 'yes'. This is a kind of slave mentality. Easterners have the habit of being happy in Western definitions to things. It is exclusively implemented in the philosophical minds of most Nepalese. This tendency discourages and disqualifies us from aspiring for leadership position in the global community. Today, Fearism is gradually becoming popular in some states of India and in Nigeria. These countries are trying to develop a culture of original definitions to life. This is the reason we can see many Nigerian Philosophers coming up with original ideas to the study of fear. 

Raj: There is increase of the numbers of murder, violence and rape in the society now. Can Philosophy of Fearism give explanation to this or not?

Desh: Violence, murder and war are caused by fear. Very rare may be resulted from other reasons, but fear is mostly the reason. After the murder comes more fear. The one that kills become afraid of the likely consequence of his action. Sometimes the impact of it extends like Pyramid and sometimes like rectangle. If somebody has fear of being killed by someone, and he decided to kill the person in order to eliminate his fear and become fearless. After killing the supposed source of fear [the person], he will discover that killing is never elimination of fear, rather, it ushered us into another domain of fear-the fear of the punishment for killing by the family and the society as stipulated by law. 

There are many of such people in the society. Thug, corruptor, liar, killer, raper, murderer and dishonest always feel the presence of surveillance cameras everywhere they go even when there is no such thing. The impact of fear depends on the gravity of the offence. Those who commit grievous sin always forget taste of food and sleep. They have the illusion of somebody following or talking about them. A particular fear can expand and become as big as the black sky. 

In Nepal and India, the numbers of murder and violence cases are increasing by the day. Less fear of law is the reason of it. In most cases, either the leaders are involved in the breaking of the law or they provide protection for those who break the law. Even the states seem not to adhere to the dictum of the law; this definitely increases murder, rape and violence cases in the land. 

This state of lawlessness depicts Thomas Hobbes’ State of Nature; where life was brutal, nasty and short. This is a kind of "Modern Wild Kingdom" where law is no longer regarded as a guide. This is the main problem I have seen about South Asia and Africa in recent times. When a given country or an individual begins to fear and have respect for law that is when a state can be said to be a lawful state. Then violence, murder and rape are likely to be swiped from such a state.

 

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International Journal of Fear Studies

Interdisciplinary and Transdisciplinary Approaches

 

Call for Papers and Creative Submissions:

Dr. R. Michael Fisher, Ph.D., founder/editor of IJFS, has set the wheels in motion for a first edition of an on-line journal that promotes academic scholarship, professional explorations and popular educational and creative works for a variety of serious readers interested in fresh thinking and ideas about the nature and role of fear in societies. Articles and creative submissions may include large technical and philosophical works, research studies and results, essays, opinions, poetry and other art, etc.

There is also going to be space to share the kinds of work (theoretical or practical, complete or incomplete) you are doing on fear that deserves international recognition. The primary criteria is that works have an interdisciplinary and/or transdisciplinary approach, while at the same time are progressive and open-minded works that instigate insight, healing, liberation, creative thinking, critique, and synthesis. We simply require a new journal format like IJFS because there is no other place to focus on fear as a subject matter in any journal to date.

All authors retain their own copyright of their works published in IJFS. The journal will consider re-published submissions as long as copyright approval has been made.

Submissions Due January 20, 2019 for the first volume edition of IFJS. Feel free to send the editor (r.michaelfisher52@gmail.com) a proposal of what you would like to submit ahead of time if you want feedback first. Otherwise, send your completed work and it will go out for peer-review and final editing by Dr. Fisher. Citations of references is essential in papers and should follow a standard style format (e.g., Chicago, APA, Harvard, etc.) in most cases, but also feel free to be creative in style format as well but provide a rationale for any such deviations from standard formats. There is no word-length requirements of submissions. If all goes well the first journal will be published in Spring 2019. There’ll likely be two issues/year.

If you would like to be on the Editorial Board (and/or be a Reviewer for IFJS) make your interest known to Dr. Fisher as soon as possible. We look forward to your participation to make this journal a success. The first edition will be available in an open-access pdf format and housed on the Fearlessness Movement ning (hosted by R. M. Fisher) and eventually, IFJS will be archived in a university library digital repository with open-access and full linking to academic search engines.

If you would like to gift a donation to IFJS, please contact R. M. Fisher. Your support is greatly appreciated. 

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Black Consciousness: Fear and Liberation

 

This radical minister is one who is part of the same religious-liberation movement as Malcolm X was (in the USA)... I do not necessarily support this minister and his religious group and their leader(s)... but he is an influential voice, and speaks some wisdom that all need to hear (same as did Malcolm X), especially, as he calls to Black people all over the world: for the 3 min. video talk

 

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Dr. Sheldon Solomon, social experimental psychologist (re: Terror Management Theory = TMT)... is one of several very important researchers on "mortal terror" (i.e., fear of death) as the universal ("proven") core of all malignant human behaviors individually and collectively--at least, that's what has been suggested by TMT research and the existential philosophy behind it for the last 40 years or so (thanks to writing of the late Ernest Becker). I have followed this work off and on and found it very insightful and yet to be truly tapped in 'Fear' Studies ... 

I recommend going to this video talk on the dim future of humanity ahead (unless we solve the Fear Problem): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuJhD5TkX-0

Note: I agree with much (not all) of TMT... much of the basis of TMT is supported, I'd argue in the philosophy of fearlessness (Fisher) and philosophy of fearism (Subba) and philosophy of fear (Eneyo) and others... I agree with TMT in its depiction and theory (supported by a good deal of cross-cultural evidence) that "culture" is a fear management strategy overall. In my Fear Management Systems Theory (Fisher, 2010), I give this more differentiation based on v-memes (worldviews) theories in Spiral Dynamics integral (theory).  

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Well, after a lot of years of making documentaries, in the 'wild' style of art, activism, and education... Micheal Moore has just had his newest film released last night (mostly on the Trump election and following disasters to democracy in the USA) and on "fear" (and "terror") of all kinds of fascist waves going on all over the world.. I look forward to seeing his latest film, and it is not because I love everthing Moore does and how he represents people and problems--the big and "wicked problems" that we have to face as humanity... but I like to see how he uses his art, smarts, and technologies to "create curriculum" for the 21st century.

I followed his work closely in the post-Columbine highschool mass shooting and how he approached the American "Gun Problem" (aka "Fear Problem") in his movie that won an Academy Award, Bowling for Columbine" (2002). 

I won't say much more at this point until I see the film, and listen to interviews of Moore... with the question in the back of my mind: "Is Moore a good artist, activist, educator?" and so far, I think he is a better artist-activist than he is an educator, and particularly I am referring to how he handles "fear" as a major topic... which runs all through all his best documentary works... in Bowling for Columbine he really was making a film about the growing "culture of fear" ... and its consequences...which, arguably, I would speculate have been brewing for a good 30 years in particular, and the symptoms are arising (e.g., gun violence) etc... and if you watch his 2002 award winning film, it is the "best" dealing with fear as a topic... and of course terror is not far away... in Fahrenheit 11/9 we'll no doubt once again see him dealing with "fear of Trump" and everything Trump represents ... watch carefully how he "teaches" us about what is going on and how best to understand fear/terror and how best to manage it... transform it... if he even gets to anything so complex... my critique of all his works (as he is a typical activist) is his stereotypes and polarizations (simplifications)--to create his stories. 

RECENT VIDEO RESPONSE of mine to Moore's interview on "Democracy Now" tv program (with Amy Goodman): 

https://youtu.be/ga5BZfV5UnA

 Most recent video (2nd one) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJLdM85Rwts&t=4s

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Fear is Perplexing and Complex: Fearism

Recently, Fisher and Subba have prepared a paper and short presentation, to be given by Desh Subba at the 2018 International Scientific Conference Proceedings [1] in Moscow, Russia. The title of our paper is Abstract Expressionism Under the Lens of Fearism. This paper and presentation is a first collaboration on the relevance of fearism to art(s) and aesthetics, of which we hope to eventually create a book on that area of application of philosophy of fearism. Art(s) are so important to culture and societies and their consciousness evolution, so fearism has to take up that task of analyzing this important sphere. 

We thought we would share a short excerpt from our paper presentation with you all on the FM ning: 

"Discovering that the study of fear is best to be studied under a new philosophy of fear(ism), Subba pioneered some of the core work in this area. Fisher, working independently across on the other side of the world, was doing the same but using some different vocabularies and philosophies to sort through how best to understand and manage fear. What we both agreed upon, independently, is that the world (including art in the largest sense) can be best understood by looking deeply at fear and its role. We also knew that “fearism alone is insufficient” as a total analytic direction and it must be supplemented with other ways and methods that are not focusing on fear so intensely. We also agreed that most of the analysis of fear historically has been one of making it a negative factor in human experience. The literature on this negative bias is predominant and still remains to this day. We felt a positive-side was important to promote, yet at the same time we knew fear is much grander than merely sorting into binary boxes of good fear and bad fear. Subba’s (2014, 14) fearist conception is that we ought not forget that “Fear is as vast as the universe” and thus we keep an open imaginary regarding the nature and role of fear. We both agreed that a post-postmodern (i.e., holistic-integral) view on fear itself was required. Fear was to remain, under a fearist lens, as a very complex, if not perplexing, phenomenon requiring an equally complex and perplexing adequate set of epistemic methodologies to understand it (Fisher & Subba 2016)."

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[NB: It is a constant theme of debate in fearological circles that "fearology" and "fearism" and a "fearist lens" (perspective) really takes a very unique positioning on how to expand the prevailing fear imaginary and understand fear management/education compared to most authors/teachers/writings available. The issue of "perplexity" and "complexity" is definitely a key feature of differentiating the fearological way and the non-fearological way of interpreting "fear" and everything related to it. So, if one examines critically just about any typical writing/teaching on fear, what you'll notice is that writers tend to be very rational, clear, concise and (over-)confident when speaking about the nature and role of fear and how to manage it best. The fearological approach embraces another direction, not following that "rational" approach and thus one enters more the sublime of inquiry into a world of perplexity and complexity when it comes to the topic of fear.  -rmf]

 

 

Notes: 

1. The title of the conference is "The Destinies of Abstract Expressionism: For the Centenary of Guy de Montalur's Birth" 

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There's a lot of interest in therapeutic and neurobiology and medicine circles these days, and for a few years now [1], around what Stephen Porges has entitled "Polyvagal Theory." It refers to the vagus nerve (autonomic system) and its net of interacting nerves from brain to heart and heart to brain, and other central body organs. 

A lot of people interested in the neurobiology of fear and trauma have taken to this theory and psychotherapists and psychiatrists are particularly interested. I have not given the theory much attention yet. I am always reluctant to get on the new bandwagon of the science of fear researchers and their positivist empiricism that biases their theories of explaining fear (and 'fear'). It is typically too reductionistic in itself as explanation of such a complex phenomena as "fear." The fearologist prefers to think in holistic-integral deep and broad ways before explaining "fear." But if we are to pay attention to all dimensions of our bodies and minds and our history as a species, then neurobiology has something to offer. So, let me quickly say what I hear this theory is about, based on Porges' description in a video interview "Polyvagal Theory: How Your Body Makes the Decision." There are many videos, articles and books on this topic now a days and many professionals and theorists who put their own spin on it as well--not, to say Porges would likely agree with all the interpretations and uses per se. 

Porges explains an evolutionary theory of Defenses, that is, of systems that have developed and evolved over hundreds of millions of years in vertebrates, and in particular in mammals. A major shift went on, a kind of transformation of mega-proportions in the operation of the brain and nervous system from reptiles to mammals [2], he says. We as humans, the theory goes, are still hard-wired like our mammalian cousins in the past with the Defense system being one of the most fundamental of our systems to remain rather strongly intact because of its "proven" adaptive value to survive. That said, the beauty of that system can also be a nightmare.

Dr. Stephen Porges

I have always argued that "fear" is part of DI or Defense Intelligence (part of Emotional Intelligence) [3]. We can utilize it and we can mature it and take more and more conscious charge of it as we evolve ourselves via new levels of consciousness re-setting the operational dynamics of DI, and allowing for more flexibility than mere "reflex" [4] I would also argue that this developmental evolutionary theory of consciousness (e.g., Ken Wilber's work) gives an essential nuancing to how DI and how "defenses" work--this is not something that I see Porges' neurobiolgical research includes, which is typical of most neuroscience and positivism that don't care much about consciousness (or "mind") soft-structure platforms because they are "invisible" and not so measurable easy like brain-nerve firings (e.g., the vagaus nerve complex). The exception I know to this is Bruce Lipton's work on cell biology and consciousness, including his understanding of the most basic Love vs. Fear dynamics in the ecology of cells and their relationship to the environment.

Nonetheless, as Porges points out in this brief interview, "fear" has its own operational platform of Defense, as if it has its own rapid-fire "mind" (i.e., brain-reflex wiring that is very ancient and powerful and still active in the neuroceptive regions of pre-consciousness autonomic activity, which are really unconscious). He says, this is essential because such defense decisions (instincts) are needed sometimes in an instant when in a particular context of some severe life-threat or potential life-threat. There's no time to think about it, is the argument, and that's why these rapid-fire decisions systems are biologically-based to hi-jack the higher thought platforms of the mid-brain and cerebrum. You may note, that lots of research on the brain's amygdala surfaced in the 1990s and onward telling us of this same basic notion about fear and our defense systems... but, Porges has merely fine-tuned this and looked more at the action of the autonomic system overall and the vagus nerve network in particular.

What the amygdala research emphasized is more the "fight-flight" responsivity of the defense systems we inherited. Where Porges' work focuses on the polyvagal network and its function--quite complex, and I won't do it justice here--but that it primarily moves bi-modally as meta-motivational patterns between "protecting" and "connecting" in the reptilian-mammalian architecture of the body/brain system [5].

Porges and his followers are interested in the notion of "safety" first [6] for self/system regulation (and rehabilitation and growth), as far as I can tell. And that is the role of safety from a neurobiollogical (vagal) point of view. They assert that the defense system is hard-wired for not just fight-flight but also "shut down" (or paralysis) process under severe threat--that is, under severe trauma. They call this fear as originary and thus natural and valuable. This shut-down may take place as a kind of "trance" and/or "dissociation" or "fainting." It is very powerful to protect the organism. It is sometimes the "chosen" 3rd of the fear responses mentioned by various authors talking about fear management: in hierarchial order of activation frequency is something like this: (1) flight, (2) fight and (3) freeze (i.e., "shut down" or "shock"). Porges notes that fear-immobilization has been largely ignored traditionally in psychological fear theories and especially ignored in medicine and psychology and therapy theories [6]. He is bringing this out to the forefront, and using his polyvagal theory to help understand more of human's behaviors when distressed, when triggered by painful memories, etc. The point being, is to see that "shut down" which may not look very brave or courageous socially, is incredibly "intelligent," natural and unconscious, and not a typical "rational choice"--but it can be the very best strategy in some situations of extreme violence or damage potential of such. So, the point is we ought not be down on this 3rd option and we ought to respect the natural archaic body and defense systems to enact in our best interest. 

However, like all the 3 options of fear-responses, so-called, they can be healthy responses and they can be "dissociated" or "inaccurate" and on "over-drive" creating more problems than one already has. In other words, the fear management/response of any of these 3 responses can be "irrational" and "pathological"--leading to breakdowns of the intelligence of the Defense system. We need to learn about these systems in a good "fear education" (as I call it) so we can work with them and overcome their down-sides and potential pathological enactments. I won't go into polyvagal theory (i.e., bi-modal meta-motivation theories) beyond this brief introduction. Unless people want to explore this on the FM ning. FYI, you may or may not recall that in my work, I have added 2 more fear-response options beyond Porges [7] and his followers: that is, (4) tend-and-befriend, and (5) fearlessness. 

Notes

1. Apparently the first article that had impact on the greater scientific community by Porges (a psychiatrist and researcher) came in 1994. I find that an interesting date historically in the research on "fear." It was around this same time that a great wave of interest came from MRI studies of the brain and studies of the neurobiology of fear, pinning down the brain centre called the amygdala as the place of storage and processing of "fear" from ancient times to the present. The mid-1990s was also the time when the first critics of the "culture of fear" were starting to get published and listened to in the social sciences (albeit, they began naming this phenomena a decade earlier to explain cultural, historical and political dynamics of the major role that "fear" plays, beyond individual psychology). 

 2. This is not new as an insight nor a neurobiological fact, and it has physio-behavioral impacts of great significance in understanding humnan behavior in the past and today. The most explicit evolutionary theory of this deep structures of human motivation patterns came out of the research and theorizing of the "triune brain" concept of at least going back to Paul McLean's work, a very controversial theory that we are made up of an R-complex (Reptilian), M-complex (Mammalian) and H-complex (Human)--and, all three have their roles, and their attempts to dominate the behavior of an organism or system depending on the context. I found this in the late 1970s and was taken by what seemed a very logical brain/physiological (dynamic) explanation of behaviors and values sytems. Polyvagal theory is more or less interested in the same issues, the same hierarchical organization of these three brain platforms, albeit, Porges has his own way of naming and casting them. 

3. I am interested in a theory (Howard Gardner's) of multiple intelligences that ought to be part of our general awareness and certainly part of how we design systems that utilize the best of human potential along these lines of mulitple intelligences, e.g., cognitive, affective, relational, musical, existential, etc. The most popularized and "successfully" applied version of this has been the great attention to Daniel Goleman's work on emotional intelligence, which also bloomed in the mid-1990s (see note 1.) Again, there are critics of Goleman's theory and applications, and I myself have critiqued it several times over the decades. Mostly, there is not room in his theory for the deep structures of the evolutionary brain, as in McLean's or Porges' work, and thus, it leaves out the deep motivational phenomenology of Defense Intelligence as a core essential intelligence.  

4. My own theorizing on this for decades has been that the developmental levels (and fear management defense systems) increasingly via consciousness evolution are less and less fear-based themselves. Thus, fearlessness as a path is always a path of continual growth (under good conditions) of connectivity and more reflexive thus, less reactive defensivity re: mistrust or protectionism. 

5. There is a large universal body of research and phenomenological experience throughout recorded history that notes this bi-modality of human motivation (and a good deal of animal motivation, or even plants). Re: autonomic nervous system, Porges' polyvagal theory brings out the bimodality of parasympathetic nervous system vs. sympathetic nervous system. As well, the simplest (non-technical) expression of it is the only "two emotions" theory--what I have called meta-motivations of Love and Fear. The equivalency is that our basic "drives" as organisms move along a spectrum of Love at one end pulling us to connection, and Fear at the other end pulling us to protection (cf. Porges' theory). Now, with any extra investigation, I am now thinking of all the other theories that are ought there, prior to Porges', like John Bolby on attachment theory (based on two bimodal orientations of the baby: fear of abandonment and fear of enmeshment, of which the first is the pole of protection or defense and its problems, and the second is the pole of connection and its problems). There is also the bimodal theories of "Fear vs. Freedom" as a synthesis of many theories which I have seen brought forward by the Terror Management Theory folks, and, of course the earliest theory along this line (other than the ancient Love vs. Fear philosophies and theologies) is Erik Erikson's first stage of affective development which he named "Trust vs. Mistrust" --and, so there is a great interet in this bi-modal theorizing to explain human behavior, and Porges' theory is just the latest, with more neurobiological evidence that basically "proves" what was already known to be tested and true in human experience by the other critical observers. I'd have to think more about how Indigenous worldview (and "theories") of human motivation may also contribute here. Each of these theories has partial truths to add to the puzzle.

5. My own 'red-flags' go up when I listen to Porges and his followers and their excitement about this theory of "safety" first rhetoric and discourse--which can slide into an ideological protectionism in the name of "connectivity." A tricky thing to tease apart, and we have to use fearanalysis to sort it out re: what is fear-based motivation and what is not. To what degree is fearlessness operating? To what degree is a fear-based structuration operating in even the most positive and benign looking campaigns (even the current 'wellness' craze)? Educators and psychologists are now saying without this polyvagal "calm" (motivation for connectivity overcoming motivation for protection) there is no way children or adults can learn through teaching-connections, or no way compassion and empathy can occur. This is a highly problematic, oversimplified, discourse today, with political ideologies to examine in that such cannot be left only in the analysis of polyvagal neurobiology, no matter how much partial truths the scientists may have at their finger tips in arguing for "safety" first as foundational to basic moral-compassionate connectiing--i.e, what makes us mammalian (sometimes linked to a "feminine" perspective and/or the oxytocin of mothering and bonding processes). I won't go into my critique further here, as it is a long one, suffice it to say it involves how the State (elite) powers have mis-appropriated this "safety" (connectivity) first evolutionary and neurobiological predisposition into various uses to control people/organizations and also to construct "enemies" to be destroyed who may threaten that "safety" first need or motivation. Terror Management Theory (social psychology empirical research) has offered some of the very best analysis on this and how humans behave in inclusive-exclusive dynamics re: safety needs hooked to self-esteem needs at individual and collective platforms. Fear of course (i.e., extreme cousin in the form of terror) cannot be left out of the equation of understanding major ways humans behave. 

6. My own early study of ethology (animal behavior in the wilds) gave a lot of concerted attention to the "play dead" shut-down process of the nervous system and as a general behavioral strategy in many species. So, I would say the human psychologists and psychiatrists are much slower on picking up on this in general. 

7. Which is not to say that Porges has not taken this into account in terms of co-evolutionary face-to-face interactions, and a notion of "care" that brings about polyvagal homeostasis in mammals, especially humans. The "tend-and-befriend" is a feminist theory of fear-response by Taylor et al. not based on polyvagal theory as far as I can tell.

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Is the WHO organization spreading more fear dis-ease than it is preventing, while playing out their worst fears re: Epidemics?

This blog is all about the intersection of Health & Wellness and Fear. I see many research and career opportunities for people studying fear(ism). Here are 4 examples from one small local Alberta newspaper (March 16, 2018) [1] that show this intersection. I also know, in the West at least, there is a lot more available dollars and funding in the Health and Medical Field than any other field and they are likely to be more interested in fear and its impacts. There is a readiness for fearism studies awaiting. Now, to the four examples, and my brief critiques: 

Example 1: WHO is seemingly in its policies so overly exuberant to prevent disasters regarding "new" or "old" viruses and bacterial epidemices it has, according to this newspaper article (above) named "Disease X" as its priority. You have likely heard of Zika, SARS, Ebola, etc. but WHO has decided to name the worst epidemic disease before it is known. There is something really weird about that, even though they will tell us, as in this article, their rationale is to pre-prevent as much as possible the "next" outbreak that could threaten us. WHO is becoming like this major "security" company, organization, dominant voice and player in the role of fear and disease. Yes, as I read this article they want us to be afraid of the next unknown big killer disease before we know what it is. That's weird, and seems on the point of extreme dis-ease (fear-based) way of operating and making policies about world health. Even if their intention is good, which I trust it is, their means of getting there is dubious and I think adds more fear on the planet, and more fear adds more distress to people awaiting and trying to avoid getting sick from anything. More fear, more distress and worry, and guess what, one's immune system goes down in functioning because it is on chronic altert (worry mode) and that creates more susceptibility to infections. WHO is not paying attention to their own dysfunctional logic to create this "Disease X" as the unknown big killing epidemic disease. By calling it the unknown disease, listen to what the reporter of this article writes, and others will too as they spread the news of WHO and its listed "Disease X": "The WHO said Disease X could come from anywhere and strike at any time" and goes on to say (citing a scientific adviser to WHO) "it is likely the next big outbreak will be something we have not seen before" and don't know how to treat and people will not be immune. On and on this newspaper article goes creating the fear of the unknown in all of us over something we don't know will happen but probably will, according to experts, and they are sure good at creating the worst case scenarios and then try to convince us we should trust WHO because they are so on top of protecting us or will try to do so... etc. As I say, this is a type of totalitarian thinking and authoritarian politics to health and wellness, that the world doesn't need, it only breeds more fear. This is a primary case, on a global scale, of fear appeal advertising at its worst. It creates dependency and fear of the unknown everywhere and anytime; it creates ghosts in our minds and lives, and this chronic fear distress is a fear-disease itself being spread by a global organization (WHO) that is supposed to be improving our health, not compromising it(?). 

 Example 2: ADDING HOPE TO FEAR(S) is about how to best boost people's motivation to be well, healthy, happy, while at the same time warning them of health risks. Adversting in the field of what is called "Health Education" or "Health Communications" is a topic of research and debate. The question and concern is how much "fear" should be induced to motivate people, and when is it too much or better to add "hope" (for e.g.) to create empowerment in the consumers of these advertisements and educational programs to promote well-being? This next article gives some research, and sides in favor that "Fear will get attention, but it is better to provide them with possible solutions." I won't give more details, but this article is pointing to research that is the exact opposite of the WHO strategy (above), thus, a contradiction in the health field as our health experts themselves may not be following their own research and best practices and advice(?)

 Example 3: Love and Fear debate is ongoing, and Desh and I have written about it in our book (Fisher and Subba, 2016), and I have done research on this debate for 28 years.  In this popular article the author opens with the lines: "Reject fear, choose love" --although, it is easier said than done. If we all did it the world would be a fantasy utopia and health and wellness and good relationships would abound. What the article does not analyze, other than an individual making a committed choice to follow love even when fear pulls them in the opposite direction, is the full nature of the Fear Problem in the first place. Because, it raises the issue about why love, if it is so great, hasn't kept us as a species out of the spiraling down the drain into major crises where clearly fear is ruling not love. My point, "fear" no matter how you look at it, isn't just a "choice" and that begins a whole other philosophical, psychological, historical, theological, sociological inquiry. Fearism is one more additional mode of inquiry into this debate, and of course, the author of this article doesn't mention fearism as a new perspective in the study of fear. Unfortunately, this binary simplification "love vs. fear" (as a choice) is really kindergarten education, better than nothing, but it leaves out more than one can imagine--or, more than I'd like to see be left out of our basic fear management/education on this planet. I can say, there is an huge amount of popular interest, writing, workshops, and teachings about love in relationships, and I am glad (somewhat) that fear is recognized as a most powerful, if not the most powerful, "emotion" in relationships that can be useful or be destructive. Trying to just replace by choice fear with love, however, is fallacious and reductionistic--it will work perhaps "a little" but not a lot. And, we need a lot more understanding about the nature of fear. Although, as I say that, I know there is a great swarm of advocates who will disagree and say "no you are wrong, we need mor understanding about the nature of love." Who is right? I say, and Desh and I have said, we need a dialectical methodology of fearism to study the love vs. fear problem. [see Fisher, R. M., & Subba, D. (2016). Philosophy of fearism: A first East-West dialogue. Australia: Xlibris.)

  Example 4: Pain Reduction: Fear Reduction is an article about the new research in medicine showing that use of opioids (e.g., methadone, heroine, etc.) cause worse symptoms regarding pain and anxiety problems than are helpful. The opioids are addictive and actually damage the biological systems own resilience to pain and fear. I suggest this is a great teaching to us all, and a critique of the field of Medicine overall, and a metaphor. Too much trying to take pain and fear away (as they are like twins), is not going to help in the long run. Of course, my complaint about the "pain" and opoid studies and the way the media covers this research, is that there is not enough talk about the fact that "fear" with "pain" is what the real problem is, and instead of just getting chronic pain (addicts) "off opoids" is not a solution but a moving the furniture around in the room. What these fear-patients need (a term Desh prefers, as does Feariatry, which we are working on), is attention on "fear" as the core of their problems, along with pain that goes with it. That's the larger discussion needed, is to look more closely at pain management within the context of fear management--then, we can really move forward as a society, and doctors who prescribe pharmaceuticals can readjust their paradigm of treatment, and truly follow the Hippocratic Oath they took in med schools, that is, to "cause no harm" in trying to help. Again, I believe there is a larger metaphor and teaching that goes to apply here to all of society, not just the field of medicine. Parenting and schooling and socialization in a culture of fear, a risk-avoidance society, etc. is the real problem. We end up teaching children, against their nature, to "fear pain" rather than truly come to understand it, themselves, and manage pain better: and, I could say the exact same thing with fear. Let's move this agenda of fearism forward because there are openings in the culture now, more than ever, to really find this new paradigm, perhaps it is a Fearlessness Paradigm, that can liberate.   

 

Notes

1. All articles are excerpted from www.TheEpochTimes.com ; (March 16-23, 2018), for educational purposes only. 

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As you may or not have been following the development of philosophy of fearism (especially with Desh Subba's 2014 text; and then the Fisher & Subba 2016 text), there is a particular way (not the only way) of framing how to better deal with fear in the world, individually and collectively. Of course, this is still nascent and hypothetical, theoretical and philosophical. But today I want to set a simple scenario of (fictional) action that I would argue (not here) is actually a useful way to approach how to better deal with fear, that accounts for the larger fearological diagnosis of the global "Fear Problem" but without necessarily exacerbating that "problem" and how it easily can be seen as a "failure" in the actual therapeutic and/healing and transformation process. 

Okay, if all that is just too many words and ideas, and spins your head, and/or if you really just want me to get to the point, I'm going to suggest I will below in a simple fictional action relationship between a feariatrist and a client (or, this maybe less formal without all the role-titles) give a practical working example of fearwork. The fearologist, I'm suggesting is not so interested or focused on this issue that will be revealed below, but the feariatrist (analogous with a psychiatrist, for e.g.) has to be more attuned to the therapeutic and/or clinical dimension of fearwork(ing). 

Okay, enough already, here's the feariatric lesson: 

Imagine a feariatrist meeting with a client: 

Feariatrist: Welcome. I am so glad you've decided to see me today and take time out from your normal life to do something less familiar or even what some may see as abnormal or just weird.

Client: Sure. It is a little weird. I don't really like psychiatrists or doctors much...

Feariatrist: I'm guessing they haven't appealed to you for good reasons. My focus is on the how are we going to solve any fear problem(s) you want to work on with me. 

Client: Sure. 

Fearistrist: Okay, well before we begin, I wanted to let you know that I did read over the information you supplied to me about your background history and your issue(s) you wanted to work on with me. Thanks, that was helpful. Though, I have to say I want to make sure we get off to a good start on this process, so would you answer a question for me first? 

Client: Sure.

Feariatrist: Oh, good. I want to talk to a part of you that most people, including psychiatrists usually, don't talk to. You could call it your unconscious, if you like. But at least, we could call it the hidden part of yourself. Is that okay?

Client: Sure. What do you mean?

Feariatrist: I want to talk to you about the purpose of your hidden part. 

Client: What?

Feariatrist: I want to talk to your fear. 

Client: Okay, but that isn't very hidden. I am afraid of ..... 

Feariatrist: Yeah, I know you were very good in outlining those fears in your preliminary information. We'll get to those. I merely want to talk to your fear first before your fears? Is that okay?

Client: Ah, sure, I guess. 

Feariatrist: Are you sure?

Client: Yes. 

Feariatrist: Good. Let's start. Sit back as comfortably as possible. Let your eyes close, and signal me some way, when you are ready to listen to my voice... 

[process of relaxation and induction goes on; details of that are not important here for this lesson]

Feariatrist (continues): Good, now here's what I want to say to your fear, that hidden part of you that doesn't get talked to, at least I am guessing so, very often by anyone. And, I'm even thinking maybe you haven't talked to it either, or at least not lately as you've been occupied with other important things. I'm not sure I know how to talk to your fear myself. But I'll do my best, you correct me after this exercise; for now, we are taking the time and space as you have chosen to come here and do this fearwork with me and get the communications going again. Right?

So, let's begin. This is what I want you to hear, which your fear already knows. [long pause, watching for responses from the client] 

There's a Fear Problem out there in the world. It's annoying. But it's not your problem. It's really not yours. It merely impacts you everyday, in mostly hidden ways. And, from the day you were conceived, or at least born, you knew. You knew but you couldn't make full sense of it, in adult terms, but you knew it had a purpose. The Fear Problem is out there in the world and it's not your problem. I want to tell you it will be totally up to you to decide how the impacts of the Fear Problem will impact you. Your fear knows already these impacts but has not always and/or not yet communicated them all to you. It wanted to protect you from some, and for good reasons. With us working together creatively we are going to help you to decide how you will be impacted, what are useful ways of being impacted and what are not useful ways of being impacted by the Fear Problem. I welcome fear now in all its gifts and ways and I welcome you [gives clients name] to a new relationship with fear. 

[this is enough for this purpose here as a lesson]

------

Again, this is a fictional session I have dramatized for teaching purposes in the work of feariatry. As you as readers may engage this or ask more about it, I will share more, but at least I think these vignettes of practice of feariatry could be useful for the development of theory and praxis down the road. At this point, I have put a good deal of thought into this, as well as drawing on my own therapeutic experience as a practitioner for decades, and yet, it is all still tentative and exploratory. I trust you will find these at least "interesting." 

p.s. as a prompt for you to Comment on this "session" feel free to take the feariatrist's perspective studying this case, or being in the session, AND/OR the client's perspective likewise, or a witness to the whole thing, etc. 

 

 

 

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Here is the 4th Technical Paper in the series of five articles on ecocriticism: "Fearanalysis and Ecocriticism in the Light of Terrorcriticism" (Technical Paper No. 69). See Abstract below. 

R. Michael Fisher

Technical Paper No. 69

 

Abstract – After a brief review of the author’s conceptualization and praxis of fearanalysis (different but analogous to psychoanalysis), he applies this method to ecocriticism (especially, Estok’s “Ecophobia Hypothesis”) in the “Age of Terror.” A study of books using “Age of Terror” in their title and other discourses on “terror” (especially, but not only post-9/11), convinced the author that there was need for terrorcriticism a new branch of literary criticism contextualized within ecocriticism (but not restricted to it), that could offer useful critical analysis of the “Age of Terror” discourses and representations of terror and the human-planetary future. Fearanalysis as previously configured is being challenged to expand to a greater inclusivity of excess-extremes for the 21st century (e.g., an “Age of Terror”), of which terror conceptualization and its problematics provides a most useful platform to the author’s agenda of promoting the global Fearlessness Movement for manifesting a “Fearless Age.”

 

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The following reflections come from my recent experience living with the Bhutanese community in Dallas/Forth Worth, TX for the 2.5 days (Nov. 24-26, 2016). Upon an invitation to speak as a guest about the philosophy of fearism and its implications for their diasporic community development, art and literature and general literary criticism in regard to the Oriental (East) and Occidental (West) complementarity and contestations, I immersed myself by living with some of the organizers and learned much that I wish to share in this blogpost of their good work and my interests therein. 

Their theme for the event this year was “Peace, Progress and Prosperity,” their 3rd time holding this yearly event called Grand International Creative Ceremony-III, in Forth Worth, co-sponsored by The Global Bhutanese Literary Organization (Dallas/Fort Worth) and Bhutanese Legacy Youth Club-Fort Worth. This conference is put on every two years.

            LARGER CONTEXT: POLITICAL CASCADE OF CRISES

All of us, the Bhutanese community living in the US diaspora, or whomever, are facing what blog writer Charles Einstein put so well in reflecting critically upon the post-2016 US election atmosphere:

Anything becomes possible with the collapse of dominant institutions. When the animating force behind these new ideas is hate or fear, all manner of fascistic and totalitarian nightmares can ensue, whether enacted by existing powers or those that arise in revolution against them.

That is why, as we enter a period of intensifying disorder, it is important to introduce a different kind of force to animate the structures that might appear after the old ones crumble. I would call it love if it weren’t for the risk of triggering your New Age bullshit detector, and besides, how does one practically bring love into the world in the realm of politics? So let’s start with empathy. Politically, empathy is akin to solidarity, born of the understanding that we are all in this together. In what together? For starters, we are in the uncertainty together.

We are exiting an old story that explained to us the way of the world and our place in it. Some may cling to it all the more desperately as it dissolves, looking perhaps to Donald Trump to restore it, but their savior has not the power to bring back the dead. Neither would Clinton have been able to preserve America as we’d known it for too much longer. We as a society are entering a space between stories, in which everything that had seemed so real, true, right, and permanent comes into doubt. For a while, segments of society have remained insulated from this breakdown (whether by fortune, talent, or privilege), living in a bubble as the containing economic and ecological systems deteriorate. But not for much longer. Not even the elites are immune to this doubt.[1]

Yes, we live in very challenging, if not dangerous times now and soon to come, especially as global warming extremes put enormous pressure on human survival. At the same time, this larger context of crises on planet earth is going to bring us all to better see that we are all on the ‘same boat’ and we can work together to help each other, or fight to try to dominate. No doubt there will be a bit of both tendencies, and yet, the great opportunity is before us to cooperate and operate beyond fear, domination and oppression. I do think our collective fear and uncertainty can be managed and transformed to create a much better world. We’ll see.

            FEARISM BACKGROUND: MEETING of EAST and WEST

A brief background before I offer some detailed reflections on this amazing experience I had with this American-based Bhutanese community:

(1) my first meeting online with Desh Subba in late 2014 has led to a collaboration, and this conference (creative ceremony) was planned (in part) so Desh and I could meet and present in person for the first time. Subba is a well-respected philosopher-writer from Nepal (now living in Hong Kong). He is currently touring the USA speaking to universities and various Nepalese groups on philosophy of fearism. He is the first to have coined the term “philosophy of fearism” as a new philosophy and wrote the first substantive text (Subba, 2014) outlining his approach to such a philosophy, where “fear” is given central conceptual and real importance as the major historical and evolutionary shaping force. His work on this topic came from a broad curiosity about the human condition and how we can help humanity move forward, with less suffering, to a better human potential.

(2) various communities in Nepal, Bhutan and especially N. E. India, have been picking up on Subba’s work and enriching it, especially the literary communities of these areas. It seems the arts in general are very open-minded to adding a new “ism” of thought in the 21st century to other isms that have been influential in shaping literature and art and have also grown out of art movements to some extent. Subba was positing that fearism, like other movements of philosophical thought (e.g., spiritualism, rationalism, existentialism, surrealism, idealism, etc.) has its place in history. These communities are, in some areas, at least beginning to explore how fearism may benefit the development of their nations, culture, communities, youth and the world.

(3) although Subba and I have communicated by email for two years, it was great to come together with the support of the Bhutanese diasporic community in Texas at this event. This allowed us to converse despite the language and cultural barriers (I am an English-only Westerner from Canada, living in the USA for the past 9 years). We gained a great deal from this time in Texas of which I’ll share some of our insights here. For those interested in our first writing collaboration see Philosophy of Fearism: A First East-West Dialogue (Fisher and Subba, 2016).

          GUEST: BHUTANESE STYLE

The Bhutanese at this event really know how to celebrate and treat people well. Before I return to that experience, let me say a few opening remarks of relevance to my being a “special guest” as it said in the letter of invitation I received on Sept., 17, 2016. I was addressed in the letter as “American Writer and Philosopher” and on the plague I received on the last day of the event as “a special guest and presenting on FEARISM, representing CANADA/USA.” So far in my career, being asked to present on my own work on the topic fear(ism) and fearlessness is extremely rare. I started this specialty of research and education in 1989, some 10 years before Subba began his work on fear(ism). I shared with the Bhutanese audience, in a dialogue format with Subba up on stage with me, that Westerners are heavily embedded, if not invested and addicted, to carrying on a fairly dysfunctional relationship with fear that is causing major local, national and global problems. They typically like to avoid talking about fear together as communities, societies, and as an Occidental civilization. At least, that is my experience. I’ve tried a long time to engage them. So, to be welcomed as a special guest to speak on the topic was overwhelmingly joyful and still is a surprise and bit of a shock.

However, I quickly learned that the Nepali-Bhutanese culture has a long tradition of treating the “guest, as god” as one young couple expressed to me in a half-joking way, but they really meant that, not literally, but sincerely. When these people meet each other for the first time in the day, or met with me, it was always “namaste” with hands palm-to-palm in front of their heart (namaste, more or less translated into English is ‘the divine in me greets and respects the divine in you’).[2] I felt highly valued and included from the beginning moment of my arrival at the airport. The young men in the car, who picked me up, treated me so graciously and respectfully and some said they had either read about my work on fearism or heard of me and the work and they felt very honored to be able to share time with me and my thoughts at this event. Again, like with Desh, despite the language and cultural barriers of communicating, what mattered most to me was the non-verbal communication of real action of caring for the other—in this case, the guest. I never forgot I was a welcomed and honored guest from beginning to end. I have never in my own country or in the Western world where I live and work, experienced anything remotely close to this respect and dignity of a people for each other, and for their guests. Although, I have noticed this is often the case in some Indigenous peoples’ communities as well that I have visited.

Because of this communicating at the deeper level of the “heart,” which several of them told me about as part of their tradition and culture, I never felt much of an alienated feeling being the ‘outsider’ (white person, English-speaking only). Truly, I will be thinking and reflecting on this experience for a very long time. The entire conference was held in the language of their own country of origin, Nepalese. I never expected what it would be like to immerse oneself in a community like this, where only minor bits of English translations were given for mostly my benefit. I respected that they honored their own language when they came together as a community. I was the guest, but in reality I was the visitor and observer too. It is not my community by geographic or cultural origin. Yet, by the last day of events, with various speakers and poetry readings, dance and singing, I noticed myself in a light semi-trance state, my heart-overflowing and emotions of empathy, sadness, and joy and respect flowing. I could have cried but I held back the tears. In the words of the Bhutanese poet, who was at the event, Narad Pokhrel a former refugee now living in the USA: “Tears drop, Tears flow; Tears remain within for long.”[3]

Again, I didn’t understand a word they said most of the time. It didn’t matter to me as a human being connecting authentically and spiritually with other human beings. Culture is not the most important thing for this greater connection in spirit. I did not feel greater or lesser than anyone. I felt a balance. I was in a mindset where mind no longer allowed divisions. I felt I was channeling much of their emotions and thoughts through me, cleansing me of my Western life experience and identity dysfunctions, privilege, and ignore-ance. I was being educating and I loved it. I sat. I sat. I sat. There were even moments I wanted to get up and dance with them.

        HEALTH & DEVELOPMENT THROUGH FEARISM

When I first talked with Denzome Sappang, the primary organizer and community leader of the Bhutanese in Dallas/Fort Worth, he was looking at what kind of accommodation could be provided for me. I mentioned that he need not bother with anything fancy, “I am a philosopher, and those things are of little matter. So, keep it simple. I don’t need much.” As it turned out, I stayed at the Bhutanese Community Center, a small half-sized unit at the same townhouse complex where Denzome and his family live. It is a lower-working class, multi-ethnic, gated community. I never learned the details of exactly what this housing complex was or who designed it but I had a sense it was for the more vulnerable and likely many were refugees. It was not the most well-managed environment and at times I wanted to go around and lure the children playing there to perhaps help to pick up the garbage litter.

The United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN Habitat) estimates that nearly one billion, or one-third, of urban dwellers in the world live in slums or near slum-like conditions or informal settlements or camps in 2007. I can imagine that rate is much higher since that survey especially with the ongoing waves of migration and refugees from war-torn and food-short environments around the world, often linked to global climate change and political instability. Housing adequacy and health environments are going to be a huge pressure humanity must face head-on in the coming decades to prevent escalating cascades of other problems, of which health issues is no. 1. I want to come back to this issue in regard to diasporic and vulnerable communities settling in North America, and especially in the USA recently and how a philosophy of fearism may play an important role.

In principle, I personally have always been against the trend of gated communities in North America especially. The main reason is because the rich people who build them and want to live in them keep themselves, more or less, isolated from the rest of the community. Many critics are pointing out that this trend is producing a class of citizens who do not have any sense of obligation to the larger civic mandates of all-taking-care- of-all, as an ethic of social justice. No, they live in a bubble and do not even care much about politics and voting. They like their segregation, their elite schools and privatized clinics and hospitals, and their own security forces, etc. I critique this because I see that all as fear-based by design; urban planners called it “white flight” for many years but it is moving beyond merely a racially-signified exodus from civic participation—it is very unhealthy and a way that continues the great divide of communities and cities by class status. Many gated communities build high walls between themselves and others. Now, the USA under a Trump leadership has a goal of building a great wall between Mexico and the USA. The wealthy can afford to live on the ‘right side’ of the security systems, which keep the growing numbers of poor and vulnerable away from them, unseen, uncared for by the wealthy. As I mentioned, racism traditionally is a significant part of the gated community phenomenon as “white” people take flight to the suburbs, leaving a type of inner city ghettoization encompassing many people of color and the vulnerable and poor in the USA.

My point is to say that I stayed with the way reality was during my short visit. If this is where Denzome and his family live and where they operate their community organization to teach ESL and Civics and yoga to new refugees and immigrants—then, I wanted to experience however briefly, the struggling to make it in America. I don’t care if it is uncomfortable and even a little scary as I was the only white person I saw the whole time there in that gated community.

I’m glad I was raised poor working class and was son of a mother who was an uneducated immigrant to Canada in the 1940s onward. I knew what my mom suffered in not speaking English and having to take jobs where she was given little respect. I saw the tears from her, and the anguish and anger. I know the shame I experienced when my friends and others made fun of our old run-down house, a lower-class neighborhood, and a car that was old and cheap and they’d stare at the patches in my clothes at times. Of course, as a young child, I never understood what was going on. I never understood the reason my mom was so unhappy and became alcoholic. Later, I put the puzzle together and realized how classism, racism, ethnocentrism, and sexism all intersect to create social problems that individuals suffer from. I learned that most everyone wants to blame to victim, the vulnerable person for their fate in life. I see the error of that kind of thinking now. I also see the error of treating people in the margins of society, like the refugees, as only “victims” because they certainly are not that alone. If you spend time with them, as I did, as a privileged white person, I could see a creative vibrancy and drive to be much more than a victim of circumstances.

So, I am now accepting of my lower-class background and my own struggles with poverty as an artist and as an independent scholar and philosopher. I guess, what I am saying is that I really ‘felt at home’ with these people I met at this event. I don’t mean to claim they felt ‘at home’ and comfortable with me, necessarily. I do not know for sure what everyone felt. What’s more important however, from the larger cultural, political context of contemporary America, is that the general public is still largely fear-filled when it comes to the concept of “refugee.” Call it xenophobia (fear of the stranger; the Other) or just call it simply fear of refugees and immigrants and anyone else who, in some people’s minds, “don’t belong here and are up to no good.” I don’t take that stance. But unfortunately, fear is still central in the lives of the diasporic communities in America because they feel often that negative association from the larger society. The recent racist-based headlines of the news reports “OSU attacker Identified Somali Refugee” and one could go on and on with the cases of how targeted populations are named in extreme violence cases like this one, rather than merely reporting a name of a criminal. If the attacker was white and “American-looking” (so-called) would anyone giving such a report in headlines say “Identified Irish-American” or such? Of course not! Targeting “refugee” in the headlines, in this case, easily generalizes peoples’ fear to include all refugees as dangerous like this one individual, who drove down and knifed several students on OSU campus. And this is what Trump’s agenda is all about, always was in the election campaign, fearmongering and xenophobia. I feel for my diasporic brothers and sisters who have to live with this kind of climate of fear, culture of fear, and its relentless unnecessary attacks on “the Other.”

       FEARISM AS POTENTIAL ‘CORRECTIVE’ TO FEARMONGERING

This leads to my last short discussion on how fearism is potentially important. Desh and I shared some of our thoughts in our dialogue at the event, but it was much too short, as many other people came up and told me. I agree, we had great questions from the audience[4] and we have a lot more to say in trying to answer them. But that will all come in time. What I realized from this event and in talking with Desh and so many others, is that fearism is still relatively hard to understand in all its implications and all its liminal and unknown mysteries. Much of it is still intuitive thought that makes up the philosophy and thus, more systematic writing is yet to come. It is often poetically described and speculatively derived. Desh and I plan to write a short Manifesto on Philosophy of Fearism to help readers and students of our work. Some people told us, especially a few young people, it would be great to have an online course on this topic taught by Desh and I. Yes, that would be great. I’d like to see the Bhutanese diasporic communities or any communities take on studying the nature and management, and transformation of fear, just like a basic “fear education” (analogous, to say, a basic “sex education or "moral education").

The one thing that kept coming out in my mind about this experience was how powerfully important the diasporic communities are to the rest of the world and global change processes. I will be only brief in sharing my thoughts here. It seems that the places of change and transformation of human beings and their societies always function best under difficult challenging and even oppressive and “crisis” conditions. There is no comfort and stability much in these sites generally nor in the diasporic communities—especially, when they are refugee-based and/or poor. How to keep these communities healthy and developing forward, rather than falling into fear-based patterns of apathy and despair and pessimism—loss of culture and dignity, etc.—this, is a great challenge. I saw how Denzome and so many others worked tirelessly for this conference to be a success. I also stayed in their little community center and saw how it is a place of adult education and development for their Bhutanese community members and others who wish to participate in some way. Volunteers. There is minimal resources available at this time to them, and they do so much good work for what they have. I felt greatly inspired.

I kept thinking that fearism, if they continue to study it and apply it, with my help and with Desh’s help if they want it, has so much to offer to the health and development of the diaspora. The Nepal-Bhutan connection to fearism and fearlessness, all the way into the USA, is a great site, in the margins of the greater USA society, for learning, restoration, transformation and liberation. These big types of change rarely are instigated from within the ‘center’ of a society of the so-called “normal” people. I for one want to offer my allyship to this movement along with my heart-felt thanks for all you did for me at this event. I feel I was transformed and helped to see the world-reality in a more realistic way, than before when I had not had such an enriching experience in Bhutanese-Nepali culture and creative thoughts. I wished there was more time to talk with people, but that’s okay because the event was for their community to celebrate their achievements and enjoy connections with each other.

At one point on the last day, three white Americans showed up, two of whom presented on their work with the Nepalese in Nepal. They were speech instructor specialists and philanthropists. As much as I was interested to see the good they were doing, I was also disturbed at times personally by their attitudes toward refugees and immigrants. I noticed how different the American attitude is re: “melting pot” approach and how the one speaker literally gave a lecture to the Bhutan community on how they ought to “assimilate” and then Americans will be more kind to them. More or less, that was what was implied. In Canada, this is not, generally, the way we look at “the Other” but rather we see they have gifts to teach us about being human in a globalizing world. This is a much larger topic I don’t have space for in this blog. I will say, I perceived a lot of fear from these Americans, and I’m sure they are not even conscious of it, when they are in the presence of people of color, difference, and who aren't speaking in English, and they are not in control of them and the situation.

My hypothesis, after talking with Desh and having this experience, has led me to thinking there is a particular diasporic learning site of change that could be a great model for others in diasporas but also beyond that. For example, the Bhutanese diasporic, say in America, could be leaders of human change and global transformation, showing alternatives of love and care for “the Other” and of better ways humans could do things—the latter, which are turning out to be very destructive to humanity and the environment we depend on—that is, how to do them without pathological and neurotic and despairing fear and terror motivating change, perceptions, thoughts, actions. But rather to make the creative changes based on a new relationship to fear and fearlessness—one that is healthy and constructive not destructive. This is the lesson the rest of the world needs to learn, in Desh’s and my opinion. Philosophy of fearism is based on this basic assumption.

I look forward to my ongoing connections with these communities. There is a lot of work to do. I am full of renewed energy to be part of the solutions. I also learned in my experience at this event to be a good listener, no matter what, even if I don’t understand all the language and some of the behaviors and cultural traditions and rituals. That is not so important, as to listen-to-connect, then we’ll be human together without fear getting in between our differences. That’s the future I want to live and pass on to the children for generations to come.  

****

     References
Fisher, R.M. (2010). The world's fearlessness teachings: A critical integral approach to fear management/education for the 21st century. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.
Fisher, R.M., and Subba, D. (2016). Philosophy of fearism: A first East-West dialogue. Australia: Xlibris.
Subba, D. (2014). Philosophy of fearism: Life is conducted, directed and controlled by the fear. Australia: Xlibris.


[1] Excerpt from “The Election: Of Hate, Grief and a New Story”; thanks to Emmett Coyne who sent me this essay by Charles Einstein http://charleseisenstein.net/hategriefandanewstory/

[2] My reading of this ritual, both at the cultural and spiritual levels, is one of a “gift of fearlessness” (dana abaya) offering: that is (in English translation), I bring not fear to you or your loved ones, and I expect you to likewise return that gift. Elsewhere, Fisher (2010) I have written about the gift of fearlessness based on theological scholars’ work on this topic in Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism.

[3] Excerpt from the poem “Tear” from The Pathetic Journey. Discourse Publications, 197.

[4] Three of the questions from audience members were, as best I recall: (1) What is the role of fearism in giving us a new perspective on how leaders of all kinds in societies everywhere tend to use fear to manipulate others?, (2) What is the difference between Subba’s philosophy of fearism, and Fisher’s philosophy of fearism?, (3) What is this philosophy of fearism, in simpler language, so that more people can practically understand this and make use of it?

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Responding to the 2016 US election results is the thing tens of thousands of people are doing already. I don’t want to write a response trying to repeat what they are saying, more or less—which, boils down to how much fear they have because of the winner “Donald Trump” ('the man,' 'the beast').

No, as a fearologist researcher-writer-teacher I am thinking in the imaginary of what I have lately been calling the Anthropocene Fear (21st century context). From that perspective, I don’t want to be petty and underplay the importance of this election, nor over-exaggerate its importance on a global-geological scale. That said, the ‘ripples’ of fear in the world, which for Trump supporters is elation, are worthy of responses. My first response was prior to election day; see “Love, Fear, and the US Election 2016” (FMning Oct. 20, 2016).

Instead, I’ll pick-up on the concept of Trumpism as the topic, which sort of makes Donald Trump a “symptom” not the “disease.” By which I mean to use Trumpism as a playful, trickster like way to signify a form of oppression, a guise, a mask, a character(istic) of which ‘the man’ embodies. I’m imagining, if this concept takes off with some acceptance (which I doubt it will), people will add this to the long list of ‘ism’ dis-eases in the world, like racism, sexism, classism (and, for some, Marxism, Freudianism, Stalinism, etc.). And, before long, people will be accusing other people of being not merely a racist, sexist—but, they’ll have another label to lay onto someone they disagree with and judge as Trumpist. If only ‘the man’ could play such an instrument (ha!).

My ploy is to displace the obvious energies arising in and around our dramatic reactions to ‘the man’—most all of which the media has constructed-- and potentially feel and see the energies transforming; as at one level we are ‘forced’ to come face-to-face into the energy field of fear of Donald Trump (i.e., Trumpism). I suggest we can avoid having to actually make up another “fear of Donald Trump” to add to the multiple growing lists of fears that people are already talking about in mass numbers since he (for some shockingly) won the election [1]. What the world needs now, to grow, heal and change for the better, is not a bigger list of fears or even mental disorders like Trumpophobia. I think you get what I mean. Don’t feed it! (gosh, I hope that advice doesn’t sound too new-agey spiritual). Attune to something that most of the media and the fearmongers are not attuning to... and, see what can happen. Let me explain.

So, a good friend and ally (a Canadian) asked me the other day to write more about Trumpism, and so that’s the purpose of this blogpost. I asked her why she wanted me to talk more about the concept. Here’s what she responded:

“When you mentioned that ‘Trumpism’ won’t go away [no matter what the election results], I wonder if yet another version or expression of fear has presented itself to the researcher [fearologist] in you. What do you know that the average person doesn’t that makes you think it won’t go away—and does it need to?”

The fear that motivates so much of the political field of interactions, especially in the USA (called a “culture of fear” by many experts), is what makes Trumpism work effectively. Fear motivates. It can do that in good ways and not so good ways. Trumpism is another form of fearism-t (toxic form)—which underlies all terrorism. That’s what I know that most people may not know. I was, it appears, first to coin the word “fearism” decades ago. Trumpism is closest to Triumphalism (very close to Chauvinism)—on and on I could associate terms that resonate around the fear-field of Trumpism, which makes itself look bravado-fearless but it is collecting nearly everyone’s fears at the same time to blow itself into this elite wealthy corporate charismatic leader—greater than life—blond Hero that speaks from impulse and will save the world (well, at least, “Make America Great Again” was his campaign slogan).

Does Trumpism need to go away? Does racism need to go away? Does fearism-t need to go away? I don’t think so. The question left lingering is what will replace it? Who has that magic filler for the gap it leaves? And, like waste products—once created—they don’t really go away anywhere that is really away—there is in the connectedness of all relations—“no away” anymore (and there never was, as my Indigenous brothers and sisters are teaching us today in the Anthropocene crisis). I guess we are left with transforming the energies of Trumpism, like any dis-ease. Of course, someone may take ‘the man’ out with a weapon but that won’t make Trumpism go away—because it is supported and fed and cookin’ in well nearly ½ of the voting public or more in the USA. It belongs. That’s the first rule of acceptance if one follows the path of fearlessness, as I promote and practice. It belongs because there is “no away” anymore—it is here! If it disappears then that will be—also here! My point is, don’t try and get rid of it—that’s like fear trying to get rid of fear(ism). It don’t work so well. Human history has tried this. Look at how fear of the nasty kind is still well with us and has us by the throat! (to be dramatic) We have a lot of fear management/education, I argue, to build and learn about before we ought to be trying to eliminate anything that reminds us of our fear—collectively, and individually. Yes, Trumphism is in you, and you dreamt it—that’s why it appeared in the running for the 2016 US Presidential Election. It’s yours and my Shadow, in otherwords.

My friend also said she looked up trump in a dictionary to learn it means “ranking above others” and “a valuable resource to be used to gain advantage”—she wrote, “How interesting that this descriptor energy seems embedded in our new ‘apprentice’s’ language and actions [yes, I call Triumphalism].... I’d like to know your thinking on how energy manifests in various ways it’s wonders to perform?”

Shadow energy from the unconscious (especially the collective) cycles and recycles, and then if we ignore it long enough—it “pops” out and bites us in the ass. That’s Trumpism. The 'bite' is an attempt to remind us we are "connected" --to everything! I realize that is intellectually easier to think about than to really 'get' fully and embody in practice.

We ought to say, “Hey, thank you Trumpism for the bite in the ass—I really need that!” We need it to accept it consciously—all healing, more or less, involves unconscious repressed arising and returning (and destroying) until we accept it consciously and then process it—and sure, by just working with the energy, even by doing so in playing with words, making up words, like Trumpism—is, in my view a better way to create a performance with the energies—rather, than getting all caught up in the symptom’s performance (of which ‘the man’ is so expert, apparently—he’s a TV star, isn’t he). So, get out of the box, out of the TV screen, or computer Internet screen—and design your own ‘energy’ transformations and performances to work through what is arising at this ‘crazy’ time. As many have said, “fear” (Fear) is just energy, at one level. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking your individual energy work is adequate alone to the collective reality of a “culture of fear” (or fearism-t, or Trumpism)—I’ve seen this reductionistic error (if not narcissism) way too much in the healing communities I’ve been part of. So, my long experience tells me we have to be more holistic-integral, and creative as hell as “communities” as well to do the energy transformative work.

End Notes

1. According to B. Kamal (2016) who wrote: “The electoral victory of U.S. Republican Donald Trump — many have said — is an alarming signal that heralds new, difficult times. Maybe. Anyway, this victory could –and should-be seen as a symptom not as a disease.

Such disease consists of a widespread malaise, the feeling of frustration and even oppression that the majority of citizens shelter in their hearts and minds worldwide. Let alone the syndrome of unrestricted fear of everything, which has been imposed on everyone.

Fear of the so-called economic crisis that the private banking and financial sectors have created in 2007.

Fear of lay people to lose their jobs and thus accepting unacceptable working conditions.

Fear of losing their houses, new cars, latest model smartphones, which they still owe to the banks.

Fear of migrants taking their jobs and leaving them in misery.

Fear of Muslim refugees coming to destroy their Western Christian “civilisation”.

Fear of cold wars promoted by the weapons business.

Fear, fear, fear.”

(excerpt from “Trump the Symptom” @http://www.other-news.info/2016/11/trump-the-symptom/#more-12655)

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Anyone who attempts to publish truths that are unspeakable to most of the population, and especially to publish in Education journals, magazines, newsletters, blogs and books that active educators of the mainstream will likely read, knows the frustration of being exiled from discursive communities that are supposed to be professional communities (among others) who care about young learners and the future.

Since 1989 I have been attempting to get published in such places and typically my manuscripts and proposals are exiled from publication and even worse from merely having a dialogue with an educator 'in the system.' There have been a small handful of rare moments where this was not the case and I am grateful, yet, those exceptions ran dry very quickly. It seems educators, in my experience (and, I'll keep this critique aimed at my own Western companions and colleagues), are simply not wanting to talk about fear and its negative impacts--that is, they avoid my distinction as center to my research of labeling the Fear Problem exactly as best I can for all to then do their own research and make up their own damn minds. I could be wrong or exaggerative--then, dialogue with me, let me publish, and we can go from there as any healthy democracy would. Or, am I too idealistic? Well, if I am idealistic in my expectations for educators then I am not alone. Recently, because of my dialogue with Rafiq (aka Robert Lewis) on the FM ning, I went back to search the article out that he and Four Arrows (aka Don Trent Jacobs) wrote and published on "Classroom Silence About September 11: A Failure of Education" [1].

I had read their co-authored article in 2011, long before I had heard of Rafiq. It was a time when Four Arrows had approached me in an email about his frustration of being unable to publish this piece. It so happened that I had just had my ms. for an article on pedagogy of fearlessness [2] accepted by a Pakistani journal sort of in Education (on the literary end). Not only was I amazed my article, really a first likely ever on "pedagogy of fearlessness" that I knew of, and certainly the first to get into an education mainstream peer-reviewed international journal--then, I told Four Arrows to perhaps contact the editor [3] which he proceeded to and was successful. I did not know at the time he co-wrote this with Rafiq. Rafiq (2016), in his book writes of his first encounters with Four Arrows in a remote village in Mexico and when reading his book recently I found his story about this episode of being rejected and then finally finding a publisher:

"Between editing jobs I tried to get back to work on this book. But when I looked at the pages I'd written seven months earlier, I didn't like what I read.... I stuck it back in the drawer. Instead I got talked into writing about the attack of 2001 [i.e., 9/11] Four Arrows wanted me to co-author an article with him about the complicity of educators in [not] spreading the official lie about what happened that day. I didn't want to do it. I didn't want the attack inside my head... [all over again]."

"I had no excuse. So I started outline the simple holes in the story that educators refused to look at. I discussed what it meant to have an education system that wouldn't challenge fascist authority. Like the one in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. We finished the paper at the end of December and Four Arrows sent it off to a critical education journal...". (p. 115)

Rafiq (2016) tells more on this story of the paper's destiny and the kinds of (mostly inane) types of criticism they received from reviewers and editors. Then he (again, not knowing me and my role in Four Arrows' career at this time) wrote, 

"So it went. Our article was rejected four times by journals in Canada and the United States. [hmm... is it any surprise Four Arrows and Rafiq both have left the USA and Canada, respectively, to live in Mexico] We wouldn't find a publisher until the end of 2011. The Journal of Critical Inquiry at the National University of Modern Languages in Islamabad. One of Pakistan's biggest universities with more than ten thousand students. [and, you may take a moment to reflect on the 'problems' that country has with terrorist regimes, and questionable governments, etc.] Its motto? 'We are taught how to think, not what to think.' [gotta luv that, and wish that was the motto of every classroom in North America, at least] [while Rafiq was teaching writing in Montreal at a college night class] It was my student from Pakistan who'd tipped me off about Osama bin Laden's ties to the CIA. It was fitting that a journal out of Pakistan should publish our paper." (p. 116)

I find this web of interconnections to be a-buzz with aliveness and vigor for searching for the truth... as best we can know it. It is a-buzz with the energy of Four Arrows, Rafiq and many others in the 9/11 "truth movement" and that's partly why I am featuring it in my blog here. I feel deeply connected to this whole thing around 9/11, albeit, my trajectory and focus was somewhat different than most of these critics's voices, because at the time of 9/11, 2001, I was living in Vancouver with my two teenage girls and my life-partner and trying to work on my dissertation research which was all about the "culture of fear" and its negative impacts on education, leadership and everything else--which, no one (more or less) wanted to talk about before 9/11. Then came the great North American (world) extreme dramatization of just how the culture of fear dynamic works (i.e., repression-oppression) in a so-called democratic continent, of the so-called highly developed First World. Hmmm... That's another story I'll leave for some other time, in terms of the reactions of people, within and beyond the academy, to my dissertation work and the consequences of me never getting short-listed for the many jobs I applied for in academia in North America after 2003 when I was ready to find paid work and a career.

Now, the the crux of this blogpost. As I said, I recently re-read the article by Four Arrows and Rafiq (2011) and didn't get passed the Abstract before it struck me that, OMG, I could easily hi-jack the exact words and intent behind these guy's opening words and insert my own (which I have done in square brackets below):

Abstract

“[U]ncritical belief in the official story” [of Fear’s out-of-control domination] “in light of the many substantiated contradictions to it, makes education’s silence about” [The Fear Problem] “one of its greatest failings for future generations. Educators are responsible to help students do independent research and dialogue about the validity of the official account across many academic disciplines [and beyond them too]”

“This silence does not stem from direct attacks on academic freedom but relates more to a perceived need for self-censorship” [as part of an individual-collective and, respective chronic repression-oppression dynamic, otherwise called a propagandist meta-taboo] 

“This paper is perhaps the first published appeal for more [honest and] courageous engagement with this topic in schools, especially in higher education. This purpose reflects a concern for the state-of-the-world and for future generations, and should not be interpreted as being ‘political’ beyond the fact that any study of this topic would naturally include an analysis of governments and their affairs and motives.” (p. 43)

I hi-jacked their text because it is so intimately intertwined with my own text(s) and 'narrative in the wilderness' over the years since 1989. To see it up there and published in the way they did brought up so much of my own struggles I share in common. There's not more I want to say on this. It speaks for itself, NOT IN SILENCE... and, that's the beauty of being able to write and publish on the Internet--even though, it is disappointing and sometimes frustrating how I can only do this it seems with very small marginal groups and websites (like FMning)--yet, that's no reason not to speak out! As Four Arrows and Rafiq (2016) begin their article's Introduction, how appropriately with an artist in history, they quote Leonardo da Vinci: "Nothing strengthens authority as much as silence" --by which, I know they mean, "authority" that propagandizes, entrances and oppresses.

I also noticed my red ink marks on the front page of their article from when I first read it back in 2011. I was starting to do a basic textual fearanalysis of their piece, and I noted that, they only used the term "fear" 2 times, never mentioned the "culture of fear" nor "climate of fear" etc .[4] And no mention of "fearlessness" or "fearless" and, that got me thinking how strange that was when 9/11 is the archetype of archetypes for the human Fear Problem, if I have ever seen it!

End Notes

1. Four Arrows (aka Jacobs, D. T.) (2011). Classroom silence about September 11: A failure of education? NUML: Journal of Critical Inquiry 9(1), 43-58. 

2. Fisher, R. M. (2011). A critique of critical thinking: Towards a critical integral pedagogy of fearlessness. NUML: Journal of Critical Inquiry, 9(1), 59-104.

3. The editor Sohaila Javed (for only a very short time; one issue, I believe) for this journal was one of my doctoral candidate colleagues at The University of British Columbia. We had not been close friends, and even had our conflicts around the role of religion in higher education as I recall one time--but, we always kept in touch, and gratitude to her for doing so. And, she invited me and Barbara (my life-partner) to submit articles for this issue she was putting together in Pakistan, a few years after she had graduated from UBC.

4. Four Arrows wrote to me, during the process of trying to find a publisher: "I sent the article off to another magazine in Pakistan as you suggested and have a U.S. author who has read it who says he will publish. But he would be happy [happier] I'm sure to publish a different [watered-down] version. It might get tricky though with Robert [Lewis, aka Rafiq] since he is traveling and not accessible usualy. If Pakistan does not publish it as is, then I'm sure both Robert and I would be very happy for you to take it and play with it any way you want, adding material about fear, etc. We could always resubmit a new version to anyone. I think you could be a player somehow in the project and I'll keep you posted.... I have a vision for a conference on our spirit of fearlessness, CAT-FAWN stuff somehow. More later." (pers. comm., Oct. 28, 2011)

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Rafiq's Response to My Blog (Oct. 9/16)

I appreciate Rafiq's sincere and nuanced long response to my blog (Oct. 9/16) where I "review" his book. He was fine with me publishing his response here, as we both intend to keep the conversation going and invite others to comment and join in. Enjoy. I'll respond soon to this piece in Comments format.

Sometimes Fearlessly: A Grateful Response to Fisher’s Riff on Days of Shock, Days of Wonder

Rafiq

In his blog post “A Peek into a Young Artist’s Days of Fearlessness: Rafiq,” R. Michael Fisher does me a great kindness.[1] He takes my work as a writer seriously and he invites his readers to do the same. At the conclusion of his riff on my memoir Days of Shock, Days of Wonder: The 9/11 Age, the Ways of the Mystics, and One Man’s Escape from Babylon in the Belly of a Whale,[2] Mr. Fisher writes, “Rafiq will be an interesting player of the revolution to come, for I have no doubt of his importance … He and his work are still young and growing toward something more powerful. I’ll be watching, as no doubt will others, for what form it all takes.”

More than that, Mr. Fisher has invited me into a dialogue about my work with a reader who cares about the same things as me: the psychology of fear, the depth of love, the chance for revolution in the face of, as he puts it, “a harsh predatory capitalist world that doesn’t give a shit about his quest or mine.” It is rare for a writer to find a truly kindred reader. It is even rarer to find one who is passionate enough to ask questions whose answers can help carry the whole project of social and self evolution just a little bit further forward. In the interest of that project, then, here are my replies to his comments. I’m grateful for the chance to help frame these important ideas if I can.

But, first, a correction is in order. Although Days of Shock, Days of Wonder is endorsed on its cover by scholars Four Arrows (aka Don Trent Jacobs), David Ray Griffin, and Kevin Barrett, I never was able to find a publisher for this memoir. Like my first book, Gaj: The End of Religion,[3] which I wrote to counter the idea of God or Allah as an individual who could take sides in the “war on terror,” my memoir was published by my own company, Hay River Books, a writer’s cooperative that I set up in 2004, where various artists work on each other’s productions in exchange for similar help. So when Mr. Fisher writes the following, I think he has mistaken Hay River Books for Hay House: “It is an impressive feat for anyone to get a book like this published by an official publisher the quality of Hay River Books, as I believe they have published many of Noam Chomsky’s political tracts. Good for him.” I am happy to see that my book left the impression that it could have been published by Hay House, but it just ain’t so.

[RMF: Oh, you are right. My mistake. But actually I didn't think you'd at all be in the genre of 'new agey' type for Hay House publishers, but I meant Haymarket Books, where Chomsky publishes often]

Also, before turning to Mr. Fisher’s questions about Days of Shock, Days of Wonder, I should explain the context in which he asks them. His blog post, as I say, is a riff, not a review, for it is based on his reading of only the book’s final four chapters. He writes,

“I confess, beginning context material can sometimes be important for understanding what comes later in a book. So, if I misinterpret anything herein, it’s my own damn fault. Rafiq or anyone can correct me if I am way off the mark. Frankly, I get a thrill out of the risk of mis-interpretation. I can’t explain it other than it’s freeing to just ‘fly’ and be ‘incomplete’ and not apologetic to those who want a standard book review.”

I’m happy to say that Mr. Fisher is not at all “off the mark.” But filling in some pieces from earlier in the book will shed more light on my understanding of the themes he brings up.

On the matter of fear, I should respond to the following: “He skirted around defining ‘fear’ a lot more carefully (maybe, earlier in the book he does so) … I found him a bit of a conformist … in regard to his imaginary and understanding of fear and its management and/or transformation.” In my first book, which is a work of religious-spiritual philosophy, I write that a lack of connection to the greater whole “can give rise only to fear about the outcomes of our lives and to fear of each other. In turn, this fear breeds actual division, discontinuity, and the exaggeration of difference, such that our fears (like prayers) become the means by which we weave our futures” (p. 90). By the “greater whole,” I mean what can be called “God,” and I am writing about the distinction between God as an individual separate from creation and God as an energy that animates all of creation. This distinction is discussed in chapter one of Days of Shock, Days of Wonder, where I tell about how I came to write my first book.

In Days of Shock, Days of Wonder, as Mr. Fisher points out, I am “not trying to write a serious philosophy book.” Unlike my first book, which is all theory, my memoir is all practice. So rather than defining “fear,” it seeks to illustrate the conditions for fearlessness. The primary condition, as I say, is a worldview that is rooted in a holistic understanding of reality, wherein God is already conspiring in one’s favour, so to speak. One can move from the belief that this is so to the knowledge that this so only through firsthand experience of what I refer to in the title of my book as “wonder,” by which I mean evidence of a singular intelligent force at work in all of life.

Examples of such wonder appear in my memoir’s first chapter and form the core of many of the early chapters, continuing to accumulate across the real-life narrative of the book. Their collective effect is that they begin to suggest a grounds for fearlessness. But connection to the greater whole, whether in theory or practice, is not the same thing as absolute knowledge of the greater whole. As Four Arrows emphasizes in his recent book Point of Departure, the inspirited realm should be regarded as the “Great Mysterious.” One’s interconnection with the Great Mysterious is thus based on courage in the face of the unknown.[4] Courage precedes fearlessness, which cannot merely be claimed based on dogma but must be hard-won through experience.

In chapter nine, as I begin my retreat from Babylon in a camperized Volkswagen van, I write, “Driving out of the city, I turned on the radio in the middle of the Beatle’s Hey Jude to hear a joyous refrain. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ crooned McCartney. I told myself that I wouldn’t” (p. 67). What follows is an account of nearly killing myself while cliff jumping with my niece and nephews. The rally cry that day had been “no fear.” But they were just words, and when it was all over, I reflected, “I’d summoned enough fearless calm to come through with nothing but scrapes and bruised heels. But I was humbled. I’d been running around half-cocked. A city boy in nature. Real fearlessness was measured and patient. I would have to make it a practice on the road” (p. 68).

And that is what I did. The latter half of Days of Shock, Days of Wonder is an attempt to illustrate that process. After a week volunteering at a Buddhist retreat centre on Canada’s west coast, I write, “Each day before breakfast and dinner, I meditated with the group for thirty minutes. I was calmer than I’d been in my life. The world seemed ephemeral and simple. More than feeling fearless, I saw that there was nothing to fear after all. I vowed to keep meditating” (p. 73). Here, the link between fearlessness and an increased connection to the greater whole through meditation is key. This inner experience of God is a companion to the outer experiences of God that I narrate in terms of wonder.

After my van gets stuck on a beach, with its rear-mounted engine buried in a pit dug by my unsuccessful attempts to get it out, I write,

“If the tide came in, the engine would be flooded with salt and sand. It would be the end of the road. My pulse started to race. Was I truly fearless? I was about to find out … I lay awake and listened to the waves lap the shore … The waves seemed louder. All suffering is just thought, I told myself. The Buddhist stance … I turned out the light and slept fitfully” (p. 76). “At five-thirty I saw a thread of yellow in the clouds low over the ranch lands. Morning at last. I got out of the van. The tide was coming in. I started walking. I told myself that if all went to shit, I would catch a bus to an airport and get on the next plane to Montreal. I would leave the van behind, the solar panel, most of my stuff. But I didn’t really think it would come to that” (p. 77).

And it didn’t. My van was pulled out of the sand by a farmer with a tractor. We crossed paths on the road, and he managed to free the van before the tide was even getting close. Experiences like this one made it possible for me to keep on “jumping into the unknown without a net in sight” (p. 133). So although it may appear that there was little method to my madness, particularly given my professed preference for aligning with the flow of the Tao and letting its current carry me where it might, there was indeed a well-conceived basis for my fearlessness.

Mr. Fisher writes, “I was glad he interacted some with Four Arrows around the fear concept … However, in the pages I read I did not see an intricate synthesis that convinced me Rafiq was utilizing the best of what Four Arrows’ work had to offer him in this area.” Mr. Fisher is correct that at the time of writing Days of Shock, Days of Wonder, I had not moved from theory into practice with respect to Four Arrows’ ideas about how fear impedes rational reflection by making one susceptible to subconscious input from figures of authority.

Yet in chapter twelve I recount numerous experiences of Four Arrows that show how this aspect of fear works, all drawn from his memoir Primal Awareness.[5] I have included that part of my book in an article entitled “Indigenous Wisdom Explains Hypnosis of the 9/11 Lie” because understanding the psychology of fear is a necessary first step toward liberation from fear.[6] To be fearless in confronting authority, we must cultivate inner authority, and to do that we must confront past lies and discard subconsciously accepted nonsense. An ongoing project, to be sure.

As for the matter of love, I should respond to Mr. Fisher’s observation that I “didn’t spend a lot of time defining love systematically either. This makes me wonder, what does he actually mean when he writes about these important terms [i.e., fear and love] in human existence?” As with my attempt to illustrate the conditions for fearlessness, my book’s real-life narrative is intended to illustrate an opening of my heart and the factors that made this lived experience of love possible. And because no journey is linear, but instead a spiral that brings one back around to the same themes and awakenings again and again as it tightens, I structured my book as a double journey into love. That is, both the book’s middle and final chapters conclude with a surrender to love.

In the case of the middle chapter, it ends soon after a German mechanic I met while living in my van on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico tells me about his part in setting up a murder. I write,

“I watched the German sweating there on his back in the gravel and ground-up seashells of what was once an ocean floor. Like he was lying at the bottom of the world. And I felt only forgiveness. Love. Something I’d never felt for the killers in high places who’d done the [9/11] attack. Those misguided faces of the One. My days on the beach had opened my heart” (p. 81). Before the chapter’s end, I add, “I recalled what an American man had said to me in Nizamuddin. How the important thing was to choose one path and follow it to the end. At the time, I’d scoffed. That would be like reading only one philosopher. I’d forgotten what the Hindu thinker had said about all religions being a finger pointing at the same thing. The unifying, indwelling quality of God … [I felt] like I’d followed the path of Sufism to its end. Love for all in All. And I’d found my heart again” (p. 81).

While living on the Baja, I had come into the possession of a fat book of poetry by the Sufi poet Hafiz, who lived during the 1300s. Along with my immersion in nature and practice of meditation, this book played an important part in my orientation toward love. Having read it through twice, I write, “Not Shakespeare in his sonnets nor the Old Testament in its psalms built a greater monument to love than Hafiz. Love of self and love of God. The two entwined” (p. 78).

At the end of the book’s final chapter, I write that a true revolution required that we “ignite our inner fire and illuminate our hearts. We had to love. This was the teaching of Quetzalcoatl, Jesus, and Hafiz. It was what Gandhi had meant when he told us to be the change we wanted to see in the world … Love for all in All had to be the elixir” (p. 165).

From these passages, we see that I understand love, like fear, to be a factor of our connection to the greater whole. Love for God as a part of ourselves is the path to love for both ourselves and others as part of God. In a truly holistic understanding of God, all is God, so all grounds for distinction, all grounds for hate, fall away. When Four Arrows writes on the cover of Days of Shock, Days of Wonder that I have written “a book to ignite a generation,” he is referring to my memoir’s potential to ignite people’s hearts by illustrating through narrative how the workings of the inspirited realm testify to our unity, which is the grounds for our mutual love. Mr. Fisher is right when he says that my book is unlikely to ignite “anything of such grandiosity” as a revolution by my generation. Before that can happen, we need a reorientation as individuals toward a love-based rather than fear-based cosmology.

So what does fearless love look like in action? Mr. Fisher writes, “I think often because of his total fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, and other factors, Rafiq ‘missed’ the boat of doing effective good work that could have been accomplished on his four-year journey.” He wonders whether I could have done my “socially-engaged art practices ‘better’” in the communities I frequently visited in Mexico. He is talking about actions on the ground in response to the lived experiences of actual people. I am not surprised that he should look for this type of practice in his assessment of what he calls a “a socially engaged artist,” a category that I am happy to occupy. In this respect, as with many others, his thinking and mine are aligned. As the following account will make clear, to quote a poster on the door of my Grade 2 classroom, I believe that “love isn’t love until you give it away.”

In chapter one of Days of Shock, Days of Wonder, I explain, “I was living in a one-room apartment above an all-night diner in a seedy part of downtown Montreal. A lot of people asked me for spare change. I usually gave them some” (p. 6). What follows are two anecdotes about how face-to-face generosity illustrates that giving and receiving are links in a single chain –  the source of reciprocity. In chapter three, I tell about two homeless Inuit men for whom my apartment became a kind of drop-in-centre where they got warm, cooked on my stove, and occasionally slept on my floor when the winter turned bitter cold. I would end up making a documentary with them so that they might have a voice. It’s called Be Smile: The Stories of Two Urban Inuit.[7]

Later, when I settled in the town of Sayulita on the west coast of Mexico, a similar situation arose with a teenage girl from Mexico City who was sixteen when we met and had been living on and off the streets for three years. She ended up staying with me or using my camping gear to set up home on the beach. Eventually, I helped her get a job at a friend’s shop, and she worked there for two years, living with me whenever she needed to. I thought about including her story in Days of Shock, Days of Wonder, in which case it would have been there in the final chapters that Mr. Fisher read, but I didn’t have any distance from that experience at the time. In fact, she and her punk rock friends from Guadalajara were crashing in my living room as I pounded out the book’s final pages.

There is one final comment to which I should respond. Mr. Fisher writes, “I’m curious what happened eventually to the white whale? In the 80’s I bought a 1973 VW and well ... a kinship with Rafiq’s spirit is inevitable.” The white whale, Ballena Blanca, is what I came to call the van that took me out of Babylon. In chapter fifteen of Days of Shock, Days of Wonder, after three harrowing months stuck in Belize with mechanical problems and after a week of daily vehicle breakdowns of various kinds as I drove north trying to get back to Canada, the van died in Austin Texas. The engine was blown. I write,

“I could rebuild it for about four grand. I could replace it for a lot more than that. Or I could sell the van for parts and walk away … I walked away. It was 2011. Two years to the week since I’d bought my home on wheels … I kept my drum, a backpack of clothes, a knapsack with my laptop, video camera, and hard drive. And one of the younger mechanics gave me a duffel bag for my books and some odds and ends. That was just about all of my possessions” (p. 130).

True to what I told myself the night that my van had gotten stuck on the beach with the tide coming in, I walked away with no more than I could carry. And I continued on. Sometimes fearlessly. Sometimes with love in my heart. Always in search of the authentic.

Notes

[1] R. Michael Fisher, “A Peek into a Young Artist’s Days of Fearlessness: Rafiq,” Fearlessness Movement Blog, 9 October 2016, http://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/a-peek-into-a-young-artist-s-days-of-fearlessness-rafiq.

[2] Rafiq, Days of Shock, Days of Wonder: The 9/11 Age, the Ways of the Mystics, and One Man’s Escape from Babylon in the Belly of a Whale (Montreal: Hay River Books, 2016), https://www.amazon.com/Days-Shock-Wonder-Mystics-Babylon/dp/0973656115.

[3] Rafiq, Gaj: The End of Religion (Montreal: Hay River Books, 2004), PDF at www.endofreligion.com, https://www.amazon.com/GAJ-The-End-of-Religion/dp/0973656107.

[4] Four Arrows, Point of Departure: Returning to Our More Authentic Worldview for Education and Survival (Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, 2016), 62, https://www.amazon.com/Point-Departure-Returning-Authentic-Worldview/dp/1681235900.

See also Rafiq, “Indigenous Worldview and the Art of Transformation,” review of Point of Departure by Four Arrows, Truthjihad.com Blog, 28 September 2016, http://truthjihad.blogspot.mx/2016/09/indigenous-worldview-and-art-of.html.

[5] Four Arrows, Primal Awareness: A True Story of Awakening and Transformation with the Raramuri Shamans of Mexico (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International, 1998), https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0892816694.

[6] Rafiq, “Indigenous Wisdom Explains Hypnosis of the 9/11 Lie,” Truthjihad.com Blog, 9 September 2016, http://truthjihad.blogspot.mx/2016/09/rafiq-indigenous-wisdom-explains.html.

[7] Rafiq, Be Smile: The Stories of Two Urban Inuit, documentary (2006), https://vimeo.com/103911360.

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 Introduction

 In the short essay “Can I Be Fearless?” by the internationally eminent organizational consultant, leadership trainer and teacher, Margaret Wheatley, available on the Internet at several locations, is everything I’m glad about what is happening with intention regarding the improvement of fear management/education (FME)[1] today—and, unfortunately, everything that is ‘wrong’ (distortive) with how we still think and talk and teach about fear. My position has been that we haven’t had an appropriate 21st century upgrade [2]in our “program” of how we conceive FME for a long time and its more than overdue. Fisher and Subba (2016) concluded,

            There is something profoundly new to be said about fear and its impacts in the

            21st century. The sooner it is said the better otherwise the evidence shows we will

            continue losing ground to fear—realizing one day, fear has us in its ominous

            grip—and, our healthy fearuality development (analogous to sexuality) is compromised. (p. xxi)

If we cannot arrive at an upgraded and disciplined multiperspectival view of fear itself within the near future as an intervention, then the Fear Problem will continue to rule and destroy life on this planet to the point of mass extinctions (Fisher, 2016).

 

Margaret Wheatley

Before I begin my critique of how Wheatley teaches about fear and FME in this essay, that I think her teaching is almost a “standard” for most teachers who talk about fear. That said, she is also one of the ‘cream of the crop’ organizational consultants and human leadership teachers on the planet today. She brings a welcomed Buddhist perspective to much of her work and to the functioning of a healthy workplace in the Western world. I have published off and on of her positive contributions and her critical and useful challenge for all of us to think better about the 21st century in terms of how we relate to fear, personally and collectively. In particular, two of her publications are worth noting, of which I have honored for their direction we need to go, and which I ended my book (Fisher, 2010) with: (a) “Eight Fearless Questions” in 2006[3] and, (b) “Fearlessness: The Last Organizational Change Strategy” in 2007.[4]

When I recently found and read her essay “Can I Be Fearless?” (Wheatley, 2008), I decided to carefully analyze it to see what if any thing might be new in her synthesis and teaching of FME. It struck me as a good teaching case study.

            Problem of Use of Terms

The first problematic in this short essay is her unsystematic classification system (i.e., no system) for terms that are crucially important in any FME curriculum. There is no adequate attention given to discussion of fear per se or with a philosophy and/or theory of fear to accompany and support it. Where is her starting point for a discussion of fearless, if one has no robust idea of what she defines or means by fear?

I don’t necessarily expect something complex and scholarly in such an explicit defining, as her piece is obviously written as a quick and practical overview for the practitioner. However, this is an omission too often found in 95% of the writing I read on FME. Thus, she, like the rest, assume the reader already knows what fear is (i.e., an emotion, is the assumed default “truth”). I have challenged this type of omission in a recent article (Fisher, 2016a) by criticizing it functions as a political and epistemic hegemonic (dominating) discourse—and, thus a tragic distortion of the four major ways/discourses of knowing fear on the planet (i.e., beyond, fear is an emotion discourse). In fairness to Wheatley, she does draw on two opening quotes referring to “fear” by rather famous spiritual teachers, Hafiz and Parker Palmer,[5] who say a few things about fear but do not define it either, other than indirectly. They do at least acknowledge, as does Wheatley herself, the importance of fear in shaping the human condition—of which, my own work with Desh Subba supports (e.g., Fisher and Subba, 2016). 

Secondly, she repeatedly exchanges “fearless” with “fearlessness,” of which I have argued is a very common tendency, which has no theoretical or philosophical grounds to do so—and thus, falls into a common populist discourse usage with the same looseness (Fisher, 2016b). It also contravenes (seemingly by ignoring), the decades of scholarly work others and I have done on the topic. Albeit, I can forgive her somewhat for this loose use of these terms because I never articulated the integral theory of fear management systems until Fisher (2010), making the explicit distinction based on a good deal of historical and cross-cultural research. I have argued, however, since the early 1990s that “Fearless” is a very high level (or stage[6]) of evolutionary and personal development of consciousness that includes but transcends “fearlessness.” They are best used not interchangeably.

Her focus, despite the title of the essay (on “fearless”), is on “fearlessness”  and there is some worthy material there. Again, without having defined “fear” earlier, it leaves me with continually questioning how useful really is her discussion on fearlessness. I also question the reliance on any tradition (e.g., Buddhism, which highly values “fearlessness”) by Wheatley or other authors, touting the great virtue of fearlessness when one could argue the person pursuing fearlessness is not able to identify “fear” (or ‘fear’ as I add to the complexity of knowledge required). She does ask, “... what is fearlessness? It’s not being free of fear, for fear is part of our human journey” (Wheatley, 2008, p. 1). Here you can see the necessary dependency of fear and fearlessness as a dialectical relationship, yet, without fear being defined per se, and assume to be meaningful and true as “part of our human journey” (i.e., natural), she glosses over a huge epistemic problem in discussions about FME. She does not make clear what is natural fear or normal fear or pathological fear, etc. A number of authors do this in their discourse, but they all confuse and conflate to make natural and normal one and the same thing. This is highly problematic and distortive because of the evidence that is shown from many disciplines that there is a constructed fear born in the cradle of a “culture of fear” context,[7] and thus, to assume fear is simply natural or normal is to exclude the context of our lived reality. I have referred to this problem of reductionism (once again) to a hegemonic psychologization of fear (or FME). Writers, like Wheatley, disavow and/or ignore the historical, cultural, social and political complexity of fear and how humans are impacted by it and are participant co-creators of constructed fear (i.e., cultural modified fear, as analogous to genetically modified organisms). 

Colonial Western (Dominant) Worldview Bias

Although there are other things I could critique,[8] including how Wheatley later uses “true fearlessness” without mentioning its dialectical partner “false fearlessness” and why there would be such a distinction required in the first place. I’ll end with one last point of great disturbance—and, that is her highly Western modernist (colonialist) perspective on the topic, even if she refers to authority figures in spiritual teachings from the Eastern world (e.g., Hafiz, Zen). It comes across that she has not at all integrated Indigenous traditions around the world (especially, from her own country of origin, America) to offer wisdom on FME—an Indigenous-based critique made recently of the “Dominant worldview” in relation to fear, courage and fearlessness (Four Arrows, 2016; see chapter two).

This flaw shines brightly in the first paragraph of her essay when she talks of “our own families, perhaps going back several generations” as guides and inspiration because they “have been fearless.” She mentions, “They may have been immigrants who bravely left the safety of home, veterans who courageously fought in wars, families who endured economic hardships, war, persecution, slavery, oppression, dislocation. We all carry within us this lineage of fearlessness” (Wheatley, 2008, p. 1). I do not here a direct acknowledgement of the people who have lived relatively sustainably with Nature for 99% of human history and what they went through, and how they are the more reliable source (than the Dominant worldview) to understand fearlessness—and pass it on.

Bottomline, one finds no nuanced understanding of fear and fearlessness in Wheatley’s essay and teachings and worse it has no multiperspectival approach to understanding these notions. She makes no effort to question the “reality” and definitions she vaguely offers. The lack of such critical awareness is not what one would expect from a person who is into Buddhism. So, the message to me is that if someone as top-notch as Wheatley is so flawed in her presentation on this topic, what are we getting fed as a public by the rest of the FME teachers out there in the world?

Time to develop our own critical awareness of everyone who teaches some form of FME, even if they don’t believe they are doing so. Fact is, we most all are teaching by modeling, if not more directly through instruction. FME is a socialization phenomena, and a critical one to do well. We have a lot of work to raise the consciousness about the Fear Problem, of which part of it is how we talk, write, and teach about fear itself.

REFERENCES

Fisher, R. M. (2006). Invoking ‘Fear’ Studies. Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, 22(4), 39-71.

Fisher, R. M. (2010). The world’s fearlessness teachings; A critical integral approach to fear management/education for the 21st century. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

Fisher, R. M. (2016). Invoking fearanalysis: A new methodology applied to wicked problems and paradigm shifts in the Anthropocene. A CSIIE Yellow Paper, DIFS-15. Carbondale, IL: Center for Spiritual Inquiry & Integral Education.

Fisher, R. M. (2016a). 80% of fear discourse focuses on 25% of fear reality. Retrieved from http://fearlessnessmovement.ning.com/blog/80-of-fear-discourse-focuses-on-25-of-fear-reality

Fisher, R. M. (2016b). Problem of branding “fearlessness” in education and leadership. Technical Paper No. 59. Carbondale, IL: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute.

Fisher, R. M., and Subba, D. (2016). Philosophy of fearism: A first East-West dialogue. Australia: Xlibris.

Four Arrows (2016). Point of departure: Returning to a more authentic worldview for education and survival. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

 Kleiner, A. (with Wheatley, M. J.) (2007). Fearlessness: The last organizational change strategy. Retrieved from http://www.strategy-business.com/li/leadingideas/li00044?pg=1

 Wheatley, M. (2008). Can I be fearless? Retrieved from margaretwheatley.com/wp-content/.../Wheatley-CanIBeFearless.pdf‎

END NOTES

[1] The importance of this term cannot be overemphasized. It is based on the premise that the only reason any human being wants to know about fear is because they want to manage it more effectively. That has a lot more theoretical basis, which is beyond the scope of this article (see Fisher, 2010). Suffice it to say, I am the only writer using this term. Note, many writers do not explicitly admit their writing is about fear management, never mind fear education and thus, should be critiqued as such.

[2] I basically mean a postmodern, postcolonial, and post-postmodern (integral) upgrade of perspective (see Fisher, 2010).

[3] Excerpt from “A Call to Fearlessness for Gentle Leaders,” from her address at the Shambhala Institute Core Program in June 2006. Published in Fieldnotes, September/October 2006 by The Shambhala Institute for Authentic Leadership, http://www.shambhalainstitute.org/contat/html.

[4] See Kleiner interview with Wheatley (Kleiner, 2007).

[5] I have also been critical over the years of Parker Palmer’s writing on FME, and in the quote he goes from talking about fear (itself) generically as “so fundamental to the human condition that all the great spiritual traditions originate in an effort to overcome its effects on our lives” (cited in Wheatley, 2008, p. 1), but then he goes on to talk about fears (p. 2)—a contagious problem in FME discourses that reduce the nature and role of fear to fears as if this is no categorical problem at all. Again, it is not the purpose of this article to go into the technical details of this reductionism other than to mention it as one other form of an epistemic flaw in the discourse of Palmer, Wheatley and 95% of writers on FME.

[6] Following the principles of integral developmental theory (a la Ken Wilber), one would have to make distinctions about what is a state experience of fearless (and/or fearlessness) and what is a stage of attained development of fearless. The former being an ephemeral experience, the latter being a relatively stable identity and experiential reality (also called nondual stage). I won’t go into the technicalities of this and one is best to turn to study of integral developmental theory to better understand the basis for Wilber being clear about making this distinction which fits reality best (or, at least, I find it a very good theory of explanation).

[7] This is a large topic, I recommend Fisher (2006) for an overview of the culture of fear context/problem.

[8] Similarly, in how she approaches “fear” without defining it adequately, or pointing out the problems in defining it from multiple perspectives and contexts, she makes clumsy errors equally with defining bravery, courage and bravado—as she contrasts these (rightfully) with fearlessness. Again, see Fisher (2010) for an integral theory of fear management systems, whereby, I identify an evolutionary and developmental deep structural model that distinguishes six core systems that counteract “fear” (and ‘fear’): (1) no fear, (2) bravery (and bravado), (3) courage(ousness), (4) fear-less, (5) fearlessness, and (6) fearless.

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Hello,

I would be very interested in a visual representation of the dialectics suggested in Wilber's model, between healing and growing, awakening and presencing.

I am not sure how to get started on this:  it brings up some fear, perhaps in part because Ken's work doesn't address trauma very well.

Durwin

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I have just co-authored and published "Education, Theology and Fear: Two Priests and a Fearologist in Dialogue" (Technical Paper No. 61)... I highly recommend you check this out at Department of Integral and 'Fear' Studies (scroll down for a free pdf). 

HINT(S) FOR THE WISE

You may be wondering what is Michael up to now with this "theology" kick? 

I have been asking this question really sincerely for the past six months, since I have met both Emmett Coyne and Terry Biddington, the two priests (American, British) who have taken up my work on fear and fearlessness like no others in my career so far. And, yes, more or less, the three of us are discussing what a "theology of fear" (healthy-side, and unhealthy-side) might look like in the 21st century. 

Today, while journaling, I came into a long series of rather spontaneous connections, going way back to my interest in "theodicy" (of Good vs. Evil)... now, and since the 1989 founding of the In Search of Fearlessness Project, Love vs. Fear has been one of the core foundations of me working through what a "metaphysics of fear" could look like. 

That's enough hints... for why you may want to read this dialogue in tech. paper no. 61 ... There will be a lot more coming on this, because it seems "pressing" (or "calling") upon my soul to articulate this better-- much better-- than I have to this point. And, to finally, wet your appetite, the ongoing study of fear ('fear') now 27 years in progress is by any other name a code-word for evil ('evil') -- and, this is big stuff ... it has eluded me, and then revealed itself, and then eluded me -- my forensic fearanalysis is getting better at seeing through what it is I am on about here on this planet... ha ha! 

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As an educator, and as a critic of when certain ideas are promoted as propaganda, and distorted, I have to be concerned. Truly, I'd rather put my attention on more positive productions of my own work on fearlessness, for example. But when it comes to "fear" and our knowledge about it, I am on the path of the sacred warrior real fast. A defender of the dharma, as Ken Wilber has been called. I too am not about to leave knowledge about fear and its management alone--if, I see it is creating more problems than good. Now, the latter is not so easy to prove, and indeed, that's not my task. Other's with funding dollars and research support teams can go out there and prove the harmful effect levels of anything. I don't have that research team nor the resources to do it. I can be a good philosopher however, and that means offering a good critique--of everything. That said, I don't want to waste my time on everything-- I "waste" my time where I think I couldn't live with myself if I didn't say something. That topic of compelling interest is fear (by any other name). 

One major critical philosophical tradition has been to critique ideologies. I am talking about fear-based, fear-mongering distortions of knowledge. Now, there is not a premise in such critiques that persons, or organizations, etc. are consciously trying to reproduce toxic ideologies, nor do they want to do fear-mongering. But everything anyone publishes is potentially doing that if we are not consciously reflecting on what is being taught in discourses (e.g., how do we talk about fear). Well, there is an awful lot of talk about fear and an even greater volume these days of writing about it. I follow books on Amazon.com to watch how quickly a new book comes out on fear--like it seems every few months. All the authors have an agenda, and they want to help us be less afraid, and/or be only afraid of the right things, not the wrong things. That alone, on the surface is admirable and even ethical. But as critical philosophers, since at least Aristotle, have known, you can be right about something but be motivated by the wrong source and create unethical results. Carl Jung is somewhat famous, as a psychotherapist and theorist of the human psyche for his elaboration of the enantiodromia syndrome he found quite universal in most of modern human history and in people he observed. That syndrome boils down to a kind of 'law' of human behavior that goes like this (paraphrasing Jung): Those that try hard to do good end up (usually) doing bad. That is, the opposite results. 

So, if I as a researcher are looking for such syndromes, and I do, there is no greater source of cases of such as in the literature on fear management/education. I won't go into all the reason for why--but a good deal of my arguments can be found in my books and articles over the decades. One of the first steps to such critical analysis (i.e., fearanalysis) is to see how contradictions show up in common sense ("wisdom") of a society, a group, a writer/teacher, etc. So, here's one example that just popped-out at me today while researching new books on fear (the following are from the self-help genre): 

The example is Christian authors (but believe me, if you will, my research could find a similar case in secular writers). So, one author in a new book on fear (Jeanetta Dunlop, Unmasking Fear) writes: "As divine beings we are entitled to live a fear-fear life." 

The next Christian author (David Jeremiah, Slaying the Giants in Your Life), unknowingly, in distinct contradiction to the above author, writes, "The Bible, as a matter of fact, doesn't paint a picture of the fear-free life." 

Okay, I have to ask if I am selecting very specific quotes out of context and juxtaposing them to make my case of a contradiction in Christian teachings (at least by these two authors)? It is a slight possibility I am biasing this because I haven't read their books. I don't know them. I am speculating, but logically so, via a reading of one line of text, which is a "teaching"-- which has implications for readers. I ask, but what is a reader of such texts supposed to believe now? Which author is telling the best truth? I could go on an on as an educator and as part of a critical analysis... asking these questions. My reason for confidence in just how contradictory these authors are (as selected from many possibilities) is because I have read many such books by all kinds of people across as many diverse backgrounds as possible, over 27 years. If that makes me a bit of an expert on predicting where an author is likely going (in most cases, not all)--I can predict pretty well, and I have seen the pattern pretty well. In the self-help books, it seems people skew knowledge the most readily. Hey, we all skew somewhat anything we are passionate about to want to write a book about so we can help others by how we think we have been helped. I appreciate that desire. 

The ideological part of my criticism, however, is less forgiving, because these typical books on fear and its management/education, never critique themselves reflectively. The authors who write about fear don't seem to have that basic philosophical and ethical imperative in their work. I just do not see it (the rare exception is out there). 

I look at how there is so much contradiction about "fearless" these days-- is it good, is it bad? The volumes of teachings on fear and fearlessness is growing rapidly because of the era we are in--people are looking hard, and are quite 'desperate' for answers. Oh, yeah, and rarely do they read other authors and cite them in their own particular book or on their own particular promotional videos. Oh, no, they like to present their knowledge about fear as if it is their own great discovery, and if it worked for them then it will work for you. They are quick to flaunt their own philosophies. 

I think I've made my general point, of how this mess... of contradictions... and insufficiently good knowledge, often unethical knowledge... is splattering all over our children and parents, and so on... all over our societies... at least in the West. The East doesn't seem so obsessed with this. And my colleague in the philosophy of fearism (Desh Subba) tells me it is because the W. is much more fearful than the East. Now, there's an interesting thesis to test... as years go by. 

No, I'm not offering any advice on my critique here. You can ask if you want to know more. I'd rather, like you to think about it, and do your own research well, whenever someone says something about fear and its management as if they know what they are talking about. 

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"Wicked Problem(s)" is a term that Watkins & Wilber (2015) use in juxtaposition to the term "Wise" (for wisdom applied) (1). Wicked is potentially 'evil' (live, spelled backwards) because of the immense destructivity it carries individually and collectively. So, the other meaning is extremely difficult--challenging, to solve. For reasons, less-restimulating around "wicked" (in our W. historical past) and thus, not feeding into the growing excesses of mounting of fear people are already downloading and storing everyday, I'll take the useful 'call out' from W & W (2015) in their welcomed new book and just call these W-problems. W-problems can stand for a whole lot of things--like, world's problems--that is, problems seen from a worldcentric stance (worldview) (2). The subtitle of W & W's book is "How to Solve the World's Toughest Problems." Unfortunately, as I wish to report how their model of the Integral matrix is key in my work as well, they have (like most everyone) left out the toughest of the toughest of problems to solve in the world today (4)--you guessed it--the Fear Problem. Btw, check my latest book coming out in a few weeks on this problem (3). 

A couple things about their book which I admit I have not read it, but I read the last couple pages, which is typically of me--last is first--then, I know what I am getting into that will affect my decision to read the whole book or not. But before I go into the Integral matrix discussion they enter around "climate change" (a big W-problem), I want to say it is a delight to see Wilber is still going strong in writing (5) (as he has been "off" publishing for near a decade more or less) and has in 2014 "co-founded Source Integral and began developing the Integral Society initiative, which in collaboration with recognized global experts, will demonstrate how to develop human societies in the most comprehensive manner possible" (p. 296. This is the first book Wilber has written so extensively with another author on "solving" problems (applied). I think he has come to see that all his theory books and philosophy writings have now come to be ready to be more applied than ever as the W-problems are heating up. Good for him and his crew. And, I think the dedication of the book is worth quoting, not only to represent Wilber's worldcentric stance (or "Integral stance", see p. 293) but to show where W & W (and the Integral Movement) is coming from (at least, by noble intention): 

"We would like to dedicate this book to all those men and women around the world who look beyond their own needs and what they might want in life and serve a greater purpose than themselves. The people who can see that all of the issues we face, even problems within their own family, are our problems not 'yours' or 'mine.' Such a[n] [Integral, systems] stance reveals a deep understanding of the fact that we are not separate from each other and solving the world's toughest problems will need all of us." 

Well, such a dedication is clarifying at the general level, and it is not unfamiliar to me, as many authors have said such things. I would like to clarify the language with a little critique (I'll be brief). First, W & W have not, unfortunately, tuned-up to a language of the postmodern re: gender as they are using a very old binary of "men and women" and they say "look beyond their own needs" which is really, more accurately, for some of us working at worldcentric (Integral stance) like myself never seemingly possible as I live at the poverty-line, as I know other such individuals do. W & W obviously do not either know what that is like to live on the 'edge' or they are oblivious that it is an important factor for some of us at worldcentric operations in our work. So, "beyond" really ought to be clarified more accurately as "include their own needs" but do so within the context that "their own" also means the "world's needs" simultaneously. Lastly, they ought not to have used "not 'yours' or 'mine'" because, again, as I made my point above, the problems are both/and-- very much mine and very much the world's problems. I think a more integral-language could have been used for the otherwise lovely Dedication. 

The main point of this post is to move to the last pages of the W & W book (i.e., Appendix 6: Environmental Dimensions of Climate Change). Note, even if "climate change" is the signified W-problem, I believe both W & W would be in agreement to say that most all of the generalizations (theory) applied in Appendix 6 could be applied to any W-problem in the book and beyond what's in the book. I make that assumption. The most important reason I make that assumption is because of my interest in applying the "Integral matrix" (p. 292) more or less in my critical integral fearology work. I have been doing this for some 20+ years. I have also not been able to convince Wilber that my work is important, meaning, that my/our/world work on the Fear Problem is qualifying of dignity as a W-problem. Again, it is ignored in this latest book, and Wilber well knows that I have introduced him to my work on this problem since the early 1990s (we corresponded). Be that as it may, let me proceed to make the linkages so you may see (perhaps) how powerful the Integral matrix and vision-logic (apersperspectival-integral consciousness) and worldcentric worldview is when applied to "fear" (i.e., the World's Fear Problem). Fearology, as I have crafted it over the decades, is as "wicked" of a methodology (a W-methodology) as is the W-problems--in particular, Fear Problem (see Fisher, 2010 (6)).

I agree with W & W that the book Integral Ecology is "brilliant" (p. 292). Esbjorn-Hargens & Zimmerman (2009) produced an outstanding Integral assessment of the ecological and environmental problem(s) and the many diverse (often conflicting) individuals and groups trying to solve it. The assumption behind their book, following Wilber's basic Integral matrix conceptualization, is that (citing Esbjorn-Hargens) "No single method (e.g., level) can by itself 'see' or reveal climate change in its entirety." W & W reiterate (via Wilber's words) "You can't [realistically] honor various methods and fields, without showing how they fit together. That is how to make a genuine world philosophy." (p. 296). Integral matrix framework provides (arguably) the only and best truly Integral approach that values all the perspectives, fields, methods, and organizes them into a wise and compassionate model (a "theory of everything"; see, e.g., Wilber, 1996 (7)). Shift to the analogy (homology) of E & Z from "ecology" to "fearology"--and, at that point, everything you think you know about "fear" is about to change into multi-dimensional wickedness (dare, I say). And, I agree with E & Z and W & W that: "... our point in all of this is that wicked problems are wicked primarily because they are not approached from an equally wicked, complex, encompassing [i.e., aperspectival] multi-dimensional Integral stance" (p. 293).

I would add to this claim, which the "Integrals" never themselves seem to fully appreciate or write about, that anything less than such an Integral stance is one that is more fear-based than not, epistemologically. I make a long arduous case for that in my new book (see e.n. 3) and in all my publications on fearology. So, to again, play-off the work of W & W in Appendix 6, I am arguing that the human Fear Problem has never been solved, and fear ('fear') and fearism continue to plague us and distort our motivations (among other things). Continually, W & W call for this "subjective side" in our analysis and solutions to W-problems. E & Z did so as well, and they found in the literature, that over 200+ "ecologies" (i.e., "schools of ecology") can be identified (p. 292)--and, until we identify and embrace them, give them space on the table of legitimate partial truths in understanding the Big Ecology Problem-- there will be little and only fragmented progress solving the environmental (i.e., ecological) aspects of any problem, especially "climate change." Same with the Big Fearology Problem--and, I have not yet had the resources to classify the 200+ fearologies that exist, that is "schools" of thought in how they frame meaning of and identify the problem with "fear" (as a start). Each, more or less, with their own worldviews, own values, beliefs, facts, and so on. So, to conclude, if I get the support, I will lead this Integral matrix and stance further to study the Fear Problem--which is the motivational--I mean meta-motivational dynamic behind all the other problems (more or less) that W & W raise in their book. And yes, I too (theoretically) believe "Only by using an Integral Framework can we get a complete handle on the full extent of the challenge that climate change [fear problem] presents" (p. 293). 

So my friends, I trust this will give you a better understanding of the Fearlessness Movement and its work ahead. I end with Wilber (2015) from the Preface of W & W, which says in general what my whole blogpost here is about (except I would add "fearlessness" to the list of "more"): 

"The hope of both Alan and myself is that by using a more expanded, more inclusive 'Integral Coherence' model, a great range of new areas, dimensions, methods, fields, and approaches will be made available to you for a more comprehensive approach to whatever problems you might be facing--from the simplest to the most complex and wicked" (p. xvi)

End Notes

1. Watkins, A., and Wilber, K. (2015). Wicked and wise: How to solve the world's toughest problems. Chatham, Kent: Urbane Public. Ltd. 

2. Worldcentric, for simple identification, is a term Wilber particularly likes to use as operating when a personal or system/organization is focusing its attention, values, needs, actions, toward not just the body, self, ethnic/social grouping or institution, but the world (i.e., a global internationalist perspective, but also an ecological whole systems perspective that is evolutionary at its core). This level is developmentally called post-conventional in terms of (at least) cognition, affect, and moral capacities. Often it is called "integral" for short. See Wilber, the integral philosopher and theorist, in most any of his books, for more detail analysis of the different levels/stages of development. 

3. Fisher, R. M., and Subba, D. (2015). Philosophy of fearism: A first East-West dialogue. Australia: Xlibris. 

4. The other thing I do before I even read the last pages of a book is to glance through the Index. I look for words like affect, anxiety, fear, terror(ism) and not a one of those terms shows up in the Index. That's not a good sign, in terms of a book on so-called W-problems. I think my point of this quickie fearanalysis will come through in the text above especially in terms of how the authors continually state how important "motivation" is in order to analyze and solve W-problems. 

5. This latest short bio on KW says, "... with 25 books translated into some 30 foreign languages... [he] is in the process of writing and publishing half a dozen new books" (p. 295)--now, that's impressive with someone struggling with all the physical limitations (and aging) he has to work with daily. You can look up Wilber's disease and such on the Internet (e.g., Ken Wilber, on Wikipedia as a start). 

6. I summarized my work (albeit, only a partial Integral matrix approach with focus on stages/levels) in a critical integral theory applied to fear and its management (via fearlessness) in Fisher, R. M. (2010). The world's fearlessness teachings: A critical integral approach to fear management/education for the 21st century. Lanham, MD: University Press of America.

7. Wilber, K. (1996). Brief history of everything. Boston, MA: Shambhala.

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