Understanding Fear and Violence


For thousands of years, humanity has been on a search for a security, and through various efforts, has been unable to find this security: There has been no form of security established, neither physical or psychological. In fact, throughout this time, there have been wars, economic crises, and psychological disintegration: A world continuously enduring crisis.

The effort has always been to change society through means of changing political and economic structure, or by means of establishing systems of thought along religious or intellectual lines. Every effort has failed. There is more conflict, more economic crises, and more psychological disintegration. Humanity has always sought to find answers in thought, which divides people into different factions of opinion and ideology and ideals, religions, political and philosophical systems.

There are always answers provided by all the divided and contending groups and leaders. But the question is rarely asked: What is the root of this never-ending crisis?

How does it come about?

So, I ask you to come with me to explore our human existence, with its travails and misery, its destructiveness and confusion, and ask that you venture into your own life and witness the situation as it is; and in looking at our lives with no filter, no ideology, no preconceptions or prejudices and not starting from conclusions, but to look at it honestly, directly and completely, we might come to understand this life we’ve created and therefore solve this complex problem of our existence.

Although there are many aspects to this crisis, which really are all inter-related, let us take one aspect of the problem to see if we can see into and understand the problem as a whole. Let us look at group identity.

The Captivity of the Group Cage: Image and Identity

As we have said, human beings, as we are now, are in a state of insecurity, and we have been this way for a very long time. We try to find ways of alleviating our insecurity because we want to feel safe.

One way we try to find security is by belonging: Belonging to a group. We seek to belong to groups because it gives us a sense of identity, therefore safety, a feeling that we are something. We fear being nothing, so we try to seek the answer to this problem of being nothing by being something.

We seek out a group to belong to, and in belonging to a group we feel we are accepted, approved of, by the people in the group, including the leadership or leader of the group, and the group’s members. In getting this approval, there is fear of losing the approval, and we go to measures, sometimes extreme, brutal, and painful, to keep the group’s approval. The word approval implies that the person approving of you exerts power. There is fear of keeping this approval once you have it, just like there was fear before you had the approval (and so you sought to get the approval): So, it seems that we are fearful either way, when we are approved of and when we are not. Therefore, the problem really is that we want approval; that is, the problem is that we want to belong. Again, the problem is identity, this need to be something. And really this is all a problem because we have fear.

Belonging implies ownership, that you are owned.

After all, what belongs to you, you own, you possess, they are your possessions. Belonging, being approved of, implies that coercion is involved. After all, you are expected to do certain things, behave a certain way, be something in particular, to retain this approval, to continue to belong to a group. Therefore, in groups, there is a tendency for there to be bullies, coercing compliance with some standard. You can have the respect of the people in the group one moment, and lose it the next, simply because you did not comply. So, they give respect only as a means of control, to withdraw it at the next sign of non-compliance with the group. Also, there is usually a person in a position or positions of authority in the group, and this position of authority is considered legitimate and important. Why would someone consider a position of authority important? I say that people have no freedom within their lives and positions of authority give the illusion of control, so the person in the position of authority finally feels like they control something, and the person being controlled feels security in being told what to do. Also, identity becomes important: Again, the person in the position of authority feels they are something, and so does the so-called subordinate who is controlled who derives security in being controlled; they gain a strange sense of being taken care of. But they are deluded, they are like everyone else. To be something is to be static, and a human being is not static, a human being is not an image. We, our movement in life, is always changing, we cannot be something. Each moment, we are nothing. Being a leader is a delusion and the sense of permanent identity and being cared for as a subordinate is a delusion, just like any identity.

Now, belonging to a group has the illusion of ending a person’s alienation, when in fact it is the very thing that alienates. After all, the existence of groups indicates a separation of people: They are in separate groups, groups opposed to each other. If you notice, there are always comparisons done, in a group, comparing one’s own group to other groups. This comparison, separation, is alienation. It creates enclosures, boundaries; the emphasis in this world is always on boundaries. Indeed, the problem is the boundaries. All we have are boundaries, identities, groups. I am a man, you are a woman, you are black, etc. Now, have these separations decreased, gotten rid of, our alienation? The person who is not alienated is the person who has no boundaries, no identity, no separation, no conformity. But having no conformity actually means the ability to stand alone. Not alienated, but alone. A person with no boundaries belongs everywhere.

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