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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What Are We Afraid Of?

I find myself bombarded daily by people imposing their scare tactics on me as they try to sell me something. Products and services are for sale, ideologies too; and many are out there selling fear itself.

We have lived in fear for so long that it has become part of our DNA. We do most everything out of fear: from choosing what to say or not to say, to building relationships and making life choices. Starting with the fear of being lonely, sad, poor, homeless or unhappy, to the fear of how we will be perceived by people or judged by society, all the way to the fear of death and other unknowns. We allow people to build on our fears. The problem is that the concept of fear turns into a monster in our head that affects our decisions and therefore our life and the lives of those around us.

So with this in mind, try to evaluate how one should feel about the historic changes that swept the Middle East in the past year. To say that one is happy with the changes, we are immediately reminded that the Islamists have made most wins in the Tunisian, Egyptian and Moroccan elections. Add to that the power that Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas have mustered over the past few years. So, are all “Islamists” the same? Consider Morocco’s Premier post-election depiction of a “Modern Islam tolerant of alcohol, abortion and homosexuality.” How can extreme Islam be inclusive and engaging with the known ideologies of the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafis and other extremists who have made their opinion of the west known all along?

To express disappointment with the Arab Awakening, voices of those who have worked so hard and sacrificed so much to bring change are raised to remind us that this is only the beginning of the revolution. “We have to wait for the next elections to start to see the results of our labor,” they say. To agree with this explanation means angering those who believe the system will be hijacked by the extreme and will never be returned to the people. They point to the ruthless Post-Mubarak Military Rule in Egypt today.

The west wants us to fear the Islamists and vice versa. In Syria, the regime fights “trouble-causing thugs” while demonstrators want their “tyrannical regime” to fall. In Bahrain, the monarchy says it serves all its subjects equally, while the revolutionaries denounce their leadership as “monstrous.” In Saudi Arabia, people fear religious clerics, while the clerics make ridiculous claims that driving makes women “lose their virginity.” The government meanwhile is fearful of Iran’s Shiite spread.

All over the media, in speeches, meetings, formal or casual conversations and forums, we are told about what we should fear. But when it is all said and done, those fears are much worse than the reality, challenges and risks we already brave every day of our life. Roosevelt was right; the only thing we must fear “is fear itself.” Fear makes us its slaves while it takes control of our life. Fear can turn one’s best life situation into a jail sentence! Can you choose to ignore fears imposed on you or just insinuated? Can you redirect your energy to deal with your innate fears instead? That is exactly what I intend to do.

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2 Comments:

Keep the conversation going...

Blogger frameofmind said...

How can you get more honest then this amazing article? You can't, Owesome job, Octavia!

December 7, 2011 at 1:25 PM  
Anonymous yilmazalimoglu.com said...

I strongly believe that sustainable change comes from directing our life's purpose towards finding innovative ways to "Create Good" rather than to "Fight Bad". The current world's systems are not designed to address injustice, only to perpetuate power imbalances and keep people living in fear, so that they remain passive recipients of whatever consumer role they are crafted to fulfill.

January 3, 2012 at 10:55 PM  

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