The Thirty Minute Blogger

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Saying No to Fear-soaked "What If" World

In M. Scott Peck's book A Different Drum, the author speaks of people living under a "control mentality" or "what if?" psychology. Such people are described as believing that they can and must live in a world where every aspect of life is under control, a world without risks. Such folks like to describe themselves as "realists" but refuse to face the glaring reality that life is full of "what ifs?" they cannot control for in any way. These are not the useful "what ifs?" of the novelist, who imagines a fictional world in a certain state of being that helps her or him make a point. No, this is the fear-soaked world of total distrust of any and all perceived in any way as "the other." Dr. Peck describes the resultant behavior of living fully in the dark "what if?" world to be that one becomes a rigid, one-dimensional person who is totally risk aversive and aggressive in defending her- or himself against the perceived hoard of dark "what if?" threats skulking all around.

You can see the results of living in this world all around you. Laws passed allowing more and more citizens to run around armed to the teeth and to use those lethal weapons on the "what if?" contingency that they might be attacked (we see where that went with Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman ... and will be long suffering with the consequences of those dark events), in gated communities fearful of the imagined hoards, of ever increasing electronic security, skyrocketing gun sales, survivalist groups ... and so much more.

We cannot control this world. The microburst weather event in my hometown was a vivid reminder of this not so very long ago. We cannot keep all bad things from happening, at times our technologies will fail us, and sometimes we will fail each other. We are blessed with big brains and agile bodies to deal with disasters as they happen and to assess risks as they arise (without viewing them through dark, fear-colored glasses), not to arm ourselves to the teeth and live in terror of what might be around the next corner or in the dark shadows ... or walking through our gated community from the convenience store. We are blessed with the company of others to help us along life's difficult trail, so long as we have the nerve, honesty, and humility to reach out in vulnerability for their help, their knowledge, and their gifts. I prefer that more honest, more challenging world in which not everything has to be accounted for, controlled, and feared.

I prefer the world in which people feel empowered to help one another, the world in which we each can make a difference for the good of ourselves and of others. In this world, two young African American men in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, had seen the news of a young white girl's abduction, including her picture, and saw her in the back seat of a car two hours later. They pursued the car on their bikes, the driver became aware that he was being followed, and he hastily let the girl out of his car and sped off. Yes, bad things do and will happen, but we all can help reduce the risks and rise up to help when someone is threatened by truly evil or sick people. For more:

I refuse to live in that dark, fear-soaked, heavily controlled, "what if?" world.

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