Fear Should Win the Nobel Peace Prize

Steve Roberts black ink drawing: Swan wearing goggles

The president of the public television station I happened to be watching says to viewers, in essence, “If Congress eliminates government support of public television, it will have a devastating effect on the programs we can offer you.”  This by way of encouraging financial pledges.

Some number of incarnations forward, as we humans awaken a bit more, Mr. PBS will realize that what he was really saying was, in essence: “I’m afraid, and I don’t know how to manage it.  So, dear viewer, the more you are afraid, too, the easier it is for me to rationalize my fear and call it appropriate.”

Sure, the dry-up of public broadcasting funds by Congress might impact the station’s offerings.  No lie it would effect the station’s strategy for generating revenue.  And absolutely it would represent dramatic changes, many of which will be painful for all sorts of people.

But “devastating”?  Not likely.

Not if, by “devastating,” we infer something that undermines, compromises or even destroys our fundamental sense of self.

Public television as we know it might die, but what fuels public television, the human spirit (that energy existing in each of us beyond the mind’s ego chatter), is immeasurably vast, creative, inventive, passionate to learn from experience––and compelled to express itself.  Moreover, investing in such expression will always be considered a savvy choice for lots of people and institutions.

The dynamics of expression and the financing of public broadcasting may change (some might say “should” change, if for no better reason than to spice things up), but the human family will be talking to itself in meaningful ways forever, regardless of the nation’s political climate.

If guys like Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama can embrace and free pain that most of us can’t imagine, I’d say Mr. PBS is underestimating his, his colleague’s, and indeed the nation’s, potential to grow resilience.

Fear should win the Nobel Peace Prize.

All emotions (energy in motion) are sacred gifts of the universe.  When growing love is our life’s purpose, fear shows us the way by illuminating what needs to be let go of in order to love.

But that’s not the only reason fear is the greatest teacher on earth.  Unmanaged, it is perhaps our most prolific form of insanity.  Using it to motivate PBS viewers is small potatoes when compared to torturing for peace.

Virtually all the world’s bloodshed is a manifestation of fear.  As is hate, revenge, judgement, blame, the need to be right, respected, skinny, rich, smart, powerful, cool, in control, safe, and all the other ego bogeymen we allow to drive our lives…until we wake up.

What powerful teachers all forms of fear are, leading us to happiness with reminders of what deserves our loving attention.  And because we humans are a little dense at this stage of the game, to get our attention, some of those reminders are excruciating.

Someday, however, we’ll be grateful for them all, just as we will be grateful that mindlessly whacking our thumb with a hammer has helped us to become a better carpenter.


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"I honor that we are killing the earth for the same reason I consider being an alcoholic a privilege: it is a doorway to the profound self-understanding required to make truly healthy choices."

The Essay: Honoring the Killing of the Earth