Conversations with Fear

Violence: March 21, 2000

     "Well, to begin with, the Eternal made Love, but I had to make myself. Then Love created peace, so I had to create Violence to counteract peace if I was going to rule. You see, peace became a condition of the world, an inseparable part of Nature before I knew what was happening. So I've been fighting peace ever since."
     "Fighting peace? With what kinds of weapons?
     "Before you answer that, why does your desciple 'Violence' have its name capitalized but not 'peace,' which is a condition of Love?"
     "Because Love is so sickeningly humble.
     "Now to answer your first question. Worry is my weapon of choice," said Fear, "because Worry, weakens the self and causes it to accept the uncertainty of the in-between times when I, whom you call enemy, have no face, when I'm seemingly everywhere and nowhere, when your imagination works its will, despite your best efforts to control it. It's during these in-between times, when your mind enters the great hall of past emotional entanglements or potential future disasters, that everywhere skulk dark possibilities to taint your view, guided, of course, by myself. These 'fearful' possibilities—which you might note I named after myself—choke your creativity, stifle and drain your energy, exaggerate potential problems before they exist, and steal your confidence by overshadowing positive thought and action, which seduces the weak, the unfocused to enter my kingdom."
     "Where did you invent Worry?"
     "I didn't 'invent' Worry," snapped Fear. "I 'created' Worry in England during olden times and named it 'Wyrgan' which in Old English means to strangle. As time progressed, however, 'Wyrgan' became 'Worien' in Middle English, which means to seize by the throat, harass. Therefore, Worry strangles or seizes your mind by casting dis-eases into your thoughts."
     "But," I interjected, "suppose I continually focus my mind on the present moment; when I do that, whatever internal conflicts I may have are loosened and evaporate, as well as any anxiety about the future."
     "Unfortunately," conceded Fear, "you can do that, but you're an exception, of which, I am glad to say, there are exceedingly few."
     "You know," I ventured, "there is a way for you to conquer people. The Chinese philosopher Lao-Tse revealed it centuries ago when he said, 'It is not by oppressing man but by serving man that we conquer man.' Have you ever though about that."
     "You unspeakable nincompoop, you imbecile, you…, you…," sputtered Fear. "Do you really think me so stupid that you could trick me into accepting the way of Love and peace!
     "And speaking of stupidity, you people either hide from or destroy your chances of finding peace in your personal lives by looking outside yourselves to this government or that to make peace among its own people, or to broker peace with its neighbors, or at least to keep the peace it promised. But governments can't make peace in the first place; all they can ever do is to control my friend Violence to some extent.
     "Ony you can find peace, recognize it, and hold fast to it. If you do those things, you can extend peace to someone else, provided he or she can accept it, but neither you nor anyone else can make peace because Love has already done so."
     "Fear, you've managed to talk all around peace, including telling me that it's impossible to create, without defining it for me."
     "I don't know if I can define peace for you; that is, to tell you what peace is. But I can tell you what peace is not.
     "Peace is not the absence of war or other hostilities; nor is it an agreement or treaty to end hostilities. The absence of war and Violence does not mean peace has arrived; it only means the absence of conflict of a certain degree of outer magnitude.
     "You may not know this, but Hermann Goering layed it out well at the Nuremberg trials following World War II, he said:

     "Naturally the common people don't want war. ... But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
     "However, peace, as best I can describe it, is an inner state of the heart, not an outer condition of the body politic. It is inner contentment, calmness, serenity. You, however, still make the mistake of trying to define peace, like Violence, first and foremost by its outer appearance—what you call its 'products'—rather than by its process.
     "Peace is like a lake. If you dive into the serenity of the depths, you are unaffected by the tempests of the surface. But unlike a lake, you have to learn to bring serenity into your own inner depths through self-control and self-mastery. Only then will your surface be calm because your outer countenance can only reflect your inner state.
     "To achieve peace, you must master yourselves, which is the only way to master the process leading out of my cycle of Violence. Consider, for example, that it takes two to make a fight, but only one to find peace. If one of the parties will not fight, there can be no fight because the party who refuses to fight is practicing peaceful non-cooperation with Violence."
     "So, if I understand you correctly, peaceful non-cooperation with Violence can be used to focus the spotlight on the perpetrators of Violence, who feel safe if their acts take place in the anonymity of darkness. By keeping the spotlight focused on Violence, it must be brought to light for all to see."
     "That," said Fear, "is just an outer exercise; you need to take this one step further. When you feel my presence inside of yourself, you must turn the searchlight inward, find me, and practice inner peaceful non-cooperation with me, which is something I gratefully find almost no one has the courage to do. So I feel quite safe hiding within you. After all, each time you abuse a child in any way, in any degree, you are teaching that child about me, and through me about my disciple, Violence.
     "I know about that kind of teaching!"
     "I know you do," conceded Fear. "I was introduced to you at a very young age."
     "Based on the abuse I suffered in my own childhood, I know beyond any doubt that the most heinous secret of humanity and human society is the 'legal' abuse of children through parental 'ownership,' as though they are chattel. The mind that abuses children not only deforms their personalities for generations to come but also steals the hope of Love from their souls. And to top that off, the child-abusing adults (who were themselves abused) spend their adult lives in a self-centered competition for money that destroys the environment in which children must live. And the children have no voice in either their treatment or their future.
     "Violence, which you take credit for having creating in the human dimension, is, in my opinion, always an outgrowth of child abuse, which rots our souls like leprosy and drives us to acts of evil because such acts are what our parents taught us and thus all we know. The unconscious compulsion to avenge repressed abuse is more powerful than all reason; this is the lesson tyrants teach us, be they tyrants in how they treat people, animals, or the environment."
     "Yes! Yes! Yes!" chanted Fear. "You've got it! You've got it!"
     "As I was saying before you interrupted, to me, Violence is the unjust use of power, which comes in many forms and is socialized in many insidious ways through the legalized abuse of children. The human 'rights' of the United States of America, for example, were conceived for and written for adults—not children. Therefore, while it's illegal for one adult to hit another, it's quite legal for an adult to hit a child, who legally is nothing more than the parent's property.
     "One does not have to hit a child, however, to abuse it. Being unwanted, ignored, and humiliated may be worse by far than being beaten and is no less violent. If one is beaten as a child, one is at least recognized and receives some kind of attention, but to be ignored is to be forgotten, non-existent, and that is a terrible kind of invalidation and inner poverty.
     "Violence is taught to us by our own parents when they abused us as children, and it's taught to our children when we abuse them, and it's taught to our childrens' children when they abuse them, generation after generation. It's the repressed feelings of pain from being unjustly abused as children, supposedly 'for our own good'—spare the rod and spoil the child—that breeds hate groups, such as the neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. Thus, yesterday's abused children become the opinion-makers, power-mongers, and power-brokers of today, and today's children become the opinion-makers, power-mongers, and power-brokers of tomorrow, and everywhere is spread hatred and Violence in your name.
     "Have I been remiss in anything I have said so far?"
     "No, I don't think so," responded Fear.
     "Then I will continue."
     "By all means, please do. I find your rendition of my teachings to be absolutely fascinating."
     "Alice Miller, in her 1991 book, Breaking Down the Wall of Silence, said in effect that a mistreated, neglected child is completely alone in darkness, confusion, and fear. Surrounded by arrogance and hatred, robbed of his or her rights and speech, deceived in love and trust, disregarded, humiliated, and mocked in his or her pain, such a child is blind, lost, and exposed without mercy to the power of ignorant adults. Disoriented and completely defenseless, all the normal reactions with which nature has endowed the child to survive are useless.
     "According to Miller, the child's healthy impulse to protest the brutality leveled against it has to be suppressed in order to survive. The child therefore attempts to extinguish forever the memory of everything that has happened, to banish from consciousness the burning outrage, fury, fear, and unbearable pain. What remains is a feeling we identify as guilt, rather than the real feeling, which is outrage at being forced to kiss the hand that beat us and then—to add insult to injury—having to beg forgiveness for even being alive, but without validation and without resolution of our feelings.
     "The abused child, says Miller, goes on living within the adult, who has survived the torture that ended only with the total repression childhood feelings. I can personally attest to that statement because there were many years during which I had no conscious memory of my childhood, no matter how hard I tried to recall it.
     "When all the child's attempts to make the adult heed and validate its story have failed, the inner, wounded child resorts to the language of symptoms to make itself heard, such as addictions, psychoses, and criminality. Now that inner child lives with the darkness of threats from society at large, with oppression, and with your image constantly before it.
     "Although this describes exactly how I grew up, nothing can describe the moment to moment fear in which I daily lived as an adult for so long, fear of having to relive the painful feelings of my childhood trauma of parental abuse. This was made clear to me a number years ago when I gave a speech to a group of U.S. Forest Service employees. After I finished speaking, an older gentleman sat looking at me for some time, and then suddenly burst out saying, 'Now I know you! I first heard you speak in 1977, and you had combat boots on. You made everyone mad in five minutes. But tonight, I thank you for what you've said.'
     "Alas, he was right. I did have combat boots on in 1977 because I was terrified of being humiliated by someone in the audience, as my father had so very often humiliated me in public as a child. I therefore had to humiliate the whole audience before someone therein could humiliate me. I had to humiliate to control, and I was often humiliated in return by members of the audience who got up and walked out saying, 'You arrogant son-of-a-bitch!' as they left. They, too, were correct. I was arrogant because I was incredibly insecure and terrified that others knew my weakness and would use it against me.
     "The violence of my attitude drove the audience away, which only increased my fear of being humiliated, so I became even more violent in my attitude, a willy-nilly participant in the dangerously vicious, circular dance from which I did not know how to extricate myself, and so it went on and on and on—according to your carefully choreographed curriculum of life."
     "Clearly, you've studied my tactics for some time. Although I'm flattered that you recognize my genius, I must say, I'm eternally grateful not everyone does."
     "Well, Gandhi also recognized your tactics when he observed that we must humiliate one another to control one another, and in the process of trading violence for violence, an eye for an eye, we end up making the whole world blind.
     "Violence of any kind is psychological sabotage, psychic murder, and it can never be justified as a corrective for Violence, because Violence in itself is perpetrated solely from a position of protecting oneself against feeling the pain of repressed emotions wrought by childhood abuse. Violence, in the long run, can never win over the principle of nonviolence and Love."
     "I agree," said Fear. "For human society to survive itself, peaceful non-cooperation with Violence—and thus with me—must become the way of the future. But beware, if you lose sight of the principles on which you stand, you are in danger of becoming that which you are against—becoming like your opponent, most often the abusive parent you resisted. So, the more your opponent abandons sound principles to win victory for a self-serving position, the stronger you become—provided, of course, you remain clearly focused on your principles and are guided by them."
     "Can you give me an example?" I asked.
     By way of an answer, Fear told the following story: "A samurai warrior, whose duty it was to kill the murderer of his late overlord, found the murderer and, having drawn his sword, was about to cut off his head when the murderer spat in his face. The samurai immediately sheathed his sword and walked away. Had he killed the murderer after having been spat upon, it would have been an act of passion, an act of anger. To have killed in anger, the samurai would have dishonored himself by committing a personal act rather than an act based solely on the of principle of justice."
     "To me," I said, "that story illustrates that as we serve others, we fine peace in our hearts. As we fine peace in our hearts, we find peace in the world. By finding peace in our hearts, where the only true peace can reside, we create a healed society and a healed Earth—much to your detriment. Mahatma Gandhi knew this when he said, 'Peace between countries must rest on the solid foundation of love between individuals.' But first we must find the courage to struggle within ourselves, because courage is the price of peace, which, after all, is only a choice."
     "True," chuckled Fear, "but how many people do you see making that choice?"
     "Virtually no one, I grant you, but then Gandhi mentioned Love as the foundation of peace, which makes good sense because, according to you, Love created peace. So, let's discuss Love."

© chris maser 2000. All rights reserved.

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