Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Conventional Wisdom

There is a lot of fear being sold in the press. That’s right, being sold. Fear sells newspapers. Even the weather channel has created a sensational “spin”, weather as fear inducer. Fear is fun. Fear is exciting. It gets my adrenaline pumping. But, why are we so afraid? Seth Godin makes the point yesterday re. parody. Digging into facts and what is real takes time. Effort.

It is possible now more than ever for people to prosper. Poverty continues to be a problem, but it isn’t a new problem. It is an OLD problem. In fact, a lot more of us used to be a lot poorer. When kings, queens, pharaohs, etc. owned slaves by the 1000’s, they had all the wealth created by the labor of the many. Today, it is more likely we can create wealth or at least a decent living through our own labor. We must give a slice to the government in taxes, hopefully for roads, schools, health care and long term social security. Unfortunately a big chunk goes into military spending, which is bolstered by fear, these days, of terrorists.

But, the military has always gotten the lions share. We allow that because we are afraid. Afraid we will lose all that we have. How much fear is irrational? I argue a lot. Being swept up into a popular mindset is easy, in the short run. Thinking on our own, discerning fact from fiction takes work. It takes work to differentiate the “news” driven by a media with the need to sell papers and air time with high overheads, fearful themselves of not making enough money to cover their costs. So, they spin. Solutions are all about work. It takes work to find ways of being that inspire peaceful exchanges. Making our own goods, trading and selling them ourselves to our neighbors, fairly and because what we produce is of value, that is a lot of work. Finding out what is true, takes work. It takes digging. Being skeptical of sensation, where’s the fun in that?! Sensation is such a hit. Skeptics are such sticks in the mud! There’s a high in believing what a lot of others believe.

Conventional wisdom is anything but. It is conventional, but it is not wise. Authentic stories, truth, is often unpopular because it destroys long held beliefs. Changing our perspective, our minds about reality as we have come to know it can be painful. The fact that the earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around landed Copernicus in deep dudu. The flat earth concept lived for centuries after Columbus landed in America, not mention all the others who had found the earth to be round well before him. Conventional wisdom is difficult to shift. People want to believe the sky is falling.

1 comment:

Greenjeans Adventure said...

Great entry, Mary Anne. It is a problem that we as a society and as individuals are motivated more by fear than by... what? Truth? Peace? It's tricky to define the opposite of fear.

Indeed, people do seem to want to think that the sky is falling. Perhaps because then they're off the hook. One of my favorite quote from Marianne Williamson:

"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 is not just in some of us; it is 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."

Is opposite of fear freedom? In that case, we have a really sick issue on our hands: a President trying to sell Freedom with Fear. No wonder it's so hard to find our own peace. Alas, seeking peace seems to be the only thing that's worthwhile to do!