Was that fear or love?
At the start of my spiritual quest I read a book that intensely discussed the nature of love and fear. No, not love and hate or love and indifference, but love and fear. The book described love and fear as opposites, and furthermore decided that all human emotions, feelings, actions, reactions are rooted in one of these two states of being. Love encompasses compassion, passion, kindness, respect, dignity and all the other happy sounding words your mind can think about. Fear, on the other hand encompasses hate, sadness, anger, meanness, guilt, sorrow and many more of the 'lower' emotions. When I first heard this theory, I thought it was bull.
How are hate and anger related to fear?
Wouldn't it be the opposite?
Why doesn't hate drive fear?
I tried to test drive this theory against some simple scenarios to see if I could be convinced. So I thought about some bulling experiences that I has in my life. Growing up, a girl much taller, older and bigger than me, stole my last bar of soap out of our shared drawer at our dorm. When I confronted her, she calmly explained it was no longer my soap and proceeded to her shower. This girl did not look like she was scared of me at all, or perhaps she wouldn't have stolen my soap. But I on the other hand, froze in place when my mind started racing through all the possible scenarios, where most of them ended in me, getting an unwanted nose job (or worse) right then and there. With time this became a frequent thing for her, to take my things and me chickening away. Soon enough I started to develop negative emotions such as self-hate – why wasn’t I bigger so I could stand up to her? ; Why wasn’t I braver? As Gandhi, himself said it:
It’s funny when you start thinking about it, even the silly things as these started off with fear. The more I thought about that girl, I realized she had her own fears to conquer. Perhaps she stole the bar of soap as she was fearful there was no other way for her to get soap, stealing appeared to be the only remedy. Ironically, I only had to ask the headmistress for a bar of soap to borrow until my mom was able to send me more. Problem solved. She could have chosen differently though. Eventually I forgave her, and forgave myself for allowing someone else's fear stimulate my own.
This also helped me to realize, most of the conflicts in the world start with some level of fear. We are not born with hatred in our hearts, it is something that fear creates. But the thing we don’t realize is that fear is something that we created and as such we can control it. Sometimes even the little steps in confronting it count. As long as we move forward, as long as we don’t let the fear take us completely over we are on a great way. Spending your life in fear, or even worse spending a life afraid to love is the worst thing you can do to yourself. Don’t deny yourself the right to be happy. Love with all your heart, sincerely and deeply. And even more importantly, remember to have compassion for others who are trapped in fear.
Remember, fear is not the boss of you!