Fear, Cognition, and responsibility

We've been taught to fear, and those who taught us have used that fear against us. They've used it as a lever to gain our support. They've used it to distract us from what they truly are. They've used it to divide us when unity is needed most. Fear is our enemy, but so too are those who would make of fear a tool to be used against us. Whether they be terrorists, politicians, businesspeople, or partners in a relationship.

   This is our challenge. To protect ourselves from the weapon that fear has become. To cure a society of its addiction to phobias. To alter that structural component of biology and sociology that encourages us to fear that which is different, and react to such fear with rapid and extreme emotional thinking and actions. This pattern may have served our species in the days when we roamed as prey, but in the modern world, the optimal reaction to fear is a cold and calculated analysis before engaging in any related action.

   Just because this is not easy, and does not come naturally to us, does not mean it should be avoided. If it did come naturally, and it was easy, then this cultural ailment would likely not exist. To act rationally while experiencing terror goes against millennia of evolution, but it is the fate of our species. This is the barrier line that denotes humanity achieving a state above its animal roots. Only when people do not act like other mammals in times of duress can they be considered to be above them.

   There are those who will say that it can’t be done, that it involves the impossibility of overriding involuntary biological functions. And there are those that have done it. The mind and body may be stubborn, but ultimately, they are malleable. The ability to change a human being is staggering in its potential, and it is a power that we all have.

   With that power comes responsibility. We do not live in a vacuum, and the way that we change ourselves impacts the ways in which others are able to change themselves. This is the heavy weight of cognition, but it is also the greatest honor. Whether through God or nature, human existence is an incredibly rare and valuable gift. We should treat it as such.