Conversations with Fear

Secrets: November 5, 2000

     "Secrets, let's talk about secrets," said Fear with enthusiasm.
     "Why secrets?" I asked.
     "Because," replied Fear, "Nature doesn't have secrets, only you people do. Secrets are uniquely human, much to my delight because they are my diplomatic passport to every government and corporation in the world. Secrets are to me an open door into global politics."
     "Why are secrets so important to you?"
     "Because they're important to you."
     "That," I said, "is not much of an answer."
     "Well," responded Fear with a smile, "it's a succinct one at least. Be that as it may, I'll explain."
     "Please do."
     "If I have a secret," continued Fear, "then I, by definition, have something I think you want, but at the same time I don't want you to have it. Therefore, I'm intent on preventing you from finding out what I know, and you are intent on discovering what it is that I'm hiding. Just think of all the government jobs that creates!"
     "Very funny," I said with thinly veiled sarcasm.
     "Good," quipped Fear, "I have your undivided attention. Now, to continue. If you have a secret, you're automatically concerned about protecting that secret, which means you must, of necessity, proceed through life with an absolute disaster mentality—something the military mind is well suited for. In other words, you automatically become a premiere subject of my kingdom."
     "Are there no exceptions?" I queried.
     "None," chuckled Fear. "If you have a secret, I've 'got ya!' It's as simple as that."
     "What's so simple about it?"
     "Good grief," sighed Fear. "Haven't you ever read Arthur Conan Doyle's 'Sherlock Holmes?'"
     "Well, there's this wonderful paragraph," began Fear with obvious excitement, "in which Sherlock Holmes is describing Professor Moriarty to Watson, his associated. It goes like this:

     "'He is the Napoleon of crime, Watson. He is the organizer of half that is evil and of nearly all that is undetected in this great city. He is a genius, a philosopher, and abstract thinker. He has a brain of the first order. He sits motionless, like a spider in the centre of its web, but that web has a thousand radiations, and he knows well every quiver of each of them. He does little himself. He only plans. But his agents are numerous and splendidly organized.'"

     "If am I supposed to deduce that Professor Moriarty is pure evil, I would agree."
     "No! No! No!" objected Fear vehemently. "Don't see the brilliance? Are you blind? I dictated that paragraph to Conan Doyle. I patterned it after myself, you idiot!"
     "Is 'Oh' all you've got to say?"
     "Brilliance I don't see, but a minnow seeing itself in a mirror, I do. Or, as the ancient Eqyptian put it: Has't thou see thy reflection upon the wall and thought thyself mighty? In other words, I see narcissism," I said somewhat cautiously. "But I still don't see what's so simple about it."
     "Well, think about it!" snapped Fear. "Think about it! If you have something to hide, either because it's of great value to you or because it's potentially damaging to you, then it behooves you to keep it a secret. Either way, you must assume that you have some kind of advantage over me if I don't know what you know or, if I know your secret, then I have the advantage over you. After all, anyone harboring a secret is driven by competition of some kind, even if it's only personal pride."
     "Does it always have to be something competitive? Can't it be a surprise gift?"
     "Of course it could be a gift!" barked Fear, "But you know damn well that's not what I'm talking about!"
     "Then be clear about what you mean," I chided.
     "As I was saying," continued Fear doing its best to ignore my comment, "to protect your perceived advantage, you must assume that I want to know your secret, which means you must be suspicious of every move I make. You can't afford, in your mind at least, to take at face value anything I say or do. You must distrust my very existence and do your best to 'read between the lines' of my every utterance and action. Put differently, you must be perpetually on guard against me and what you perceive to be my darkest motives.
     "For example, consider your own government's new 'Official Secrets Act.' You know, the one you Congress pass last month without the usual substantive debates. Under this legislation, it will be a felony offense to disclose information to an 'unauthorized' person, which means that millions of present—and former—government officials, employees, and defense contractors could be constrained when it comes to talking about subjects the government doesn't want discussed.
     "The beauty of such an act is that your high and mighty American society has now lost some of its freedom of speech—by your own paranoid hand. That's your doing. Not mine!
     "In fact, you, in the greatest democracy in the world, share the same penchant for secrecy that infects the world's most heinous regimes, despite the fact that information is the life's blood of the democratic process. Consider that it took 190 years for your American government to formally acknowledge that the common citizen has a 'right' to know what goes on within each and every administration. Even so, the 'Freedom of Information Act of 1966' has done little to really open government so people can see and understand what is going on behind closed doors.
     "Although public access to government documents can dissuade the temptation by those in power to abuse the system, it can't prevent all abuses. The best counterbalance to system abuses by those in power who want to keep secrets from those who delegate the power to them—the voting citizen—is a mandatory policy of openness and transparency, which, by the way, I have yet to see in the history of this democracy of yours."
     "You seem particularly overjoyed by this."
     "Believe me, I am," replied a beaming Fear. "After all, citizens in a truly free society are not required to guess what is illegal about their speech. But now, under this new Act, whistle-blowers and dissenting officials will have to check with their superiors to determine whether the information they want to share is classified. But what tickles me most is that the very superior a whistle-blower and dissenting official will have to ask may well be the target of the commentary or complaint.
     "This new law marks the return of the old, discredited concept of 'classifiable' information, which periodically surfaces  to create liability for disclosing information that in some depraved mind 'could have' or 'should have' been rendered secrete through classification. The outcome of this wonderful law is to curtail anonymous dissent by requiring government employees to seek advanced permission to exercise their 'constitutional right of free speech.' Not only that, but it also—and this is beyond marvelous!—locks in advanced warnings that will permit evildoers to seal cover-ups for corrupt acts by destroying evidence or designating incriminating information as classified after the fact.
     "Under this Act, the Pentagon Papers, security breaches at the national nuclear labs, CIA misdeeds, government radiation experiments on unwitting victims, and Chinese support to U.S. political campaigns would not have been 'discovered.'
     "So you see, you play right into my hands."
     "But why," I asked "do people need secrets if other animals don't?"
     "That," said Fear, "is the beauty of it. You don't! You just think you do. If you people would only be honest, be one another's keepers, and work together for the benefit of everyone in all generations, you'd put me out of business because you'd invalidate my passport outside of my kingdom."
     "If I understand you correctly, you're saying that our behavior is only a choice."
     "Yes, a choice to which I gladly respond."
     "If that's the case, we can choose to eliminate secrets."
     "Fat chance," chortled Fear.
     "But why," I asked, "do you say 'fat chance' if it's only a choice?"
     "Because you have to have unconditional trust, which means unconditional Love, and you've seen how pitiful your collective attempts at unconditional Love are."
     "Are you saying that trust and Love are always hooked to secrets?"
     "Of course," replied Fear, "Love created trust, so it stands to reason that you can't have one without the other. By the same token, having a secret automatically uncouples trust from Love and relegates both to the trash heap of human dysfunction, which, nevertheless, is my treasure trove."
     "You're pathetic; you know that?"
     "I'm not the pathetic one," snapped Fear. "I didn't create secrets and their attendant dysfunction—you people did!"
     "I'm not so sure," I countered. "Secrets have your sick stamp all over them."
     "I resent that," retorted Fear. "Mine is a mark of 'genius.'"
     "How so?"
     "I've suckered humanity all these centuries, haven't I? And this, despite the genuine wisdom of true spiritual leaders who counseled for Love and trust."
     "What do you mean when you say 'true spiritual leaders'? Do you mean those people in positions of power within organized religion"
     "No, I don't mean that!"
     "Why not?"
     "Because organized religions are no more than a means by which a few people control the masses under the guise of benevolence, which makes them part of my kingdom. Control, after all, is power, and the powerful few dictate and interpret the social rules, and then, by a variety of means, such as shame and guilt, force the mindless masses into compliance with those rules."
     "That," I ventured, "doesn't sound very spiritual."
     "It isn't. True spirituality is of the individual and has nothing to do with organized religion. Organized religion, on the other hand, is devoid of spirituality because it is of men—not of the Eternal Mystery, as you put it."
     "You mean 'of people,' don't you?"
     "Oh, all right, 'of people.' As I was about to say, true spirituality is the 'still small voice' that guides those who listen, such as Jesus, Buddha, and Mahatma Gandhi. They listened to their inner voice despite religion, not because of it, and they didn't rely on some religious authority figure to interpret that voice for them. Gratefully, such people are very few and very far between or my kingdom would collapse."
     "Because truly spiritual people fight the only battle that can be won—the inner battle for personal growth. Organized religions, on the other hand, wage war on one another and people in general under the guise of religion itself. How many hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been murdered in the name of religion during the march of the centuries? How many are being killed today? How many in the future? And all in my name's sake!
     "True spirituality is—in fact—based on unconditional Love and trust, whereas religion is based on conditional love—which is not Love at all, but simply a disguise for Distrust, my secret weapon."
     "Ah Ha! So you admit to having a secret!"
     "Hell yes! I have lots and lots of them. How else could I understand their dynamics? Besides, I created the original secret; it's called 'Darkness,' which can only be removed by the inner light of unconditional Love. But as long as religions fight within and among themselves as to who has the 'right' point of view, spirituality is precluded. So you see, my secret is quite safe. In fact, it seems to get safer all the time."
     "But," I countered, "if you have a secret, then you must be afraid of something. What is it?"
     "For once, you asked a truly intelligent question," acknowledged Fear with ever so slight a hint of respect. "Strange as it may sound, I'm afraid of myself."
     "But why? How can you be afraid of yourself?"
     "I'm afraid of myself," answered Fear, "because my secret, while safe from most people, is known to the Eternal, and that is my ultimate weakness."
     "I can see your dilemma. If the Eternal granted us all free will, which the Eternal did, then you must constantly find ways to prevent people from finding the light of unconditional Love. Am I correct?"
     "You are. If enough people find Love, they will tip the balance against me and my secret will be compromised, which means my essential cloak of Darkness will begin to disintegrate in the growing light. I shudder to think of it!"
     "May I inquire what the outcome would be in terms of humanity and the world should the balance be tipped against you?"
     "You already have an inkling of an answer, don't you?" mused Fear.
     "Yes. At least I think so."
     "Well?" came the demand. "What do you think will happen?"
     "To the extent that Love's light replaces your Darkness, all secrets will be compromised and your stature in the world will diminish in like measure. Am I correct?"
     "Precisely. But as long as people lace Love with conditions, secrets will prevail, and so will I.
     "This," concluded Fear, "has been a most scintillating conversation because  Igot to do the  talking,and you got to do the listening!"

© chris maser 2000. All rights reserved.

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