“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~ Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”
The title of this post is a quote from Dune by Frank Herbert. It points out something basic. Fear robs us of our ability to think clearly and it keeps us from loving one another. For some reason we humans have chosen to live in fear rather than in love. And yet so many of us profess we long for a loving world. Living in fear flips everything we do to the opposite of what we profess we want. We act to protect ourselves in all kinds of weird ways rather than leading with love.
I see evidence of humans being ruled by fear on the news almost every day. Police kill unarmed people because they think they have a weapon, politicians create laws to control groups they fear, a gunman opens fire on innocent people, religious and ethnic groups are demonized, and on any given day you can find people venting their fear on social media.
If you look, you can find the opposite, people acting out of love, but it is harder to find those stories because fear sells.
As Herbert’s quote indicates, fear robs us of logical thinking and of feeling any tender emotions. It often rears its head as anger. Many people believe if they express their anger, they are strong. But that’s not always the case. There is a difference between expressing anger out of fear, and righteous anger challenging an injustice. We need to know the difference.
There are too many instances of people acting out of fear to write about them all in this post, though in reality, they are all aspects of the same problem. So, I will focus on what is perhaps the oldest manifestation of fear, men and women.
Since the Me Too movement began there has been a huge backlash all based in fear. This is just one in a long line of gains for women, that men then attempt to roll back. One of the big battles right now is abortion rights. For a few years now, mostly white men have been trying to scale back women’s reproductive rights.
First they tried to shut down Planned Parenthood so that women could not get free or discounted access to contraceptives. The message was, “Women are not allowed to have sex outside of marriage.” It’s a new version of the old double standard. Men can behave as badly as they want and not suffer any repercussions. But women are viewed as either pure as the driven snow, or they’re sluts. There is no in between. The pure women are controlled through fear, the sluts are censured and vilified.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the continued attempts to overturn Roe V. Wade has resulted in nine states passing laws to ban abortion. These proponents in favor of curtailing women’s reproductive rights claim to be pro-life, but as Sister Joan Chittster says, “They are pro-birth, not pro-life.” If these people were pro-life they would support programs that help women and their children, or help women not have unwanted children. But they squash proposed laws to help women with the logic, women got themselves into this mess, now they must live with the consequences. In lawmaker’s minds, a woman’s dire situation is God’s punishment. Hmmm, I wonder what Jesus would do in this situation?
Men and women! I have often wondered why men try to control women. I have felt rage on more than one occasion when men have tried to control my decisions, or treated me like a piece of meat. Just who did they think they were to tell me what to do, or to assume that I was theirs just because they wanted me? The only answer I can come up with is that at some deep existential level, men fear women. Maybe men are afraid of the light in us. It reminds them of who they really are so they have to bully us. And it makes them write stories about how God created man first, and women from the man’s rib to convince themselves they are superior to women. Really? I have never bought that story!
I’m convinced that men are the ones who came up with the ideas that control is love, aggression is strength, emotions are weak, and men are the only ones who are capable of logical thinking. They convinced lots of us that we need to be afraid of the light that we all possess within us.
It’s an extraordinary man, and I’ve known quite a few, who can form a true partnership with a woman. They’re confident in who they are and don’t need to beat their chests to prove it. They lead from the back of the group, they are not afraid to show tender emotions, and they honor everyone. Spiritual teachers call this type of man someone connected to the sacred masculine. Jesus is one example of such a man. He embraced and integrated both masculine and feminine qualities within his being.
I just finished reading the book The Lost Sisterhood by Julia Ingram, a master regression therapist and spiritual counselor, in which she points out that many of the qualities we associate with Jesus are classified as feminine: gentleness, compassion, patience, caring for the sick and the poor, and the love of children. His mission was to try to help all human beings embrace these attributes. I find it interesting that so many men, and even some women, who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ, have rejected these traits as beneath them. They much prefer the aggressive, vengeful god of the Old Testament.
I think Marianne Williamson, who is running for president, is right. We all need to take a serious look at our spiritual and moral belief systems. We need to engage in serious discussions about what is wrong with this world, and what we can do to make changes for the better. If we want a better world, we have some adjustments to make in our thinking and feelings about each other. The assumptions we’ve made about God’s teachings are breaking down. We got it wrong. It’s a perfect time amid all this turmoil to take a step back and reevaluate the true principles of those teachers we have revered all our lives.
Almost all religions assert that loving one another is the highest achievement we can aspire to. Unfortunately, through the centuries, we got off that path. We became full of fear and to protect ourselves we created false separations. We grasped for power and possessions thinking those things would protect us. But they won’t. They are false gods.
It’s the energy of love that will save us. Learning to love is a very personal endeavor that begins with forgiving and loving ourselves first. I can speak from personal experience, it’s not easy to give up fear and learn to love myself warts and all. There are so many days when I fall into fear, or anger, or blame. But when I can let go of those emotions and just love and accept people for who they are, I feel at peace. Feeling that way makes me want to continue to strive to see every human being as precious no matter what their outer behaviors. It’s a process I’ve committed myself to no matter how imperfectly I do it.
Welcome to my new followers. Thanks for your comments and likes. I appreciate you being willing to share your thoughts with me.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019
Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Except that Jenna’s life is shattered. When she finds old journals, she joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, rather than traveling physically. She is able to come back at intervals and apply what she’s learned to her own life situations.
The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.