Thursday, July 07, 2005


choosing courage in a culture of fear

i've just begun reading a book called you have the power: choosing courage in a culture of fear by frances moore lappe and jeffrey perkins. i happened upon this book months ago after reading an article about it in yes! magazine. i've been meaning to pick up a copy ever since and just finally got around to tracking one down and beginning to read it. as soon as i began reading it felt like i had finally picked the book up at the exact right moment.

then a series of bombs went off in london, and it felt even more exact. as the news of the bombings saturated the news media today it seemed impossible to escape the escalating sense of fear permeating the airwaves. as terror alerts were raised and that good ole sense of impending doom was revamped once again my mind turned to down a cynical spiral of thoughts. but only for a moment because then i thought of the book.

i remembered the key points they make in the opening chapter about how fear is used in our culture, why we are all so afraid and what the reality is. i won't cover all of it here, you'll have to read the book to get the full message, but the main point that i found solace in today is that as humans we we're designed to cooperate.

as they state in the book:

Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta used MRI scans
to detect brain responses [during]...the well-known Prisoner's Dilemma game - used to explore cooperation and conflict in groups and often to prove how self interested we are - the researchers found that the brightest signals arose when subjects were cooperating. These responses, said the scientists, suggest "that we're wired to cooperate with each other."

this is a refreshing perspective to hold as we consider the dilemma of violence in our world. we are meant to cooperate. rather than letting our minds turn to thoughts of frustration, meaninglessness and numbness, which are so easy to succumb to when confronted with such violence, we can choose another set of thoughts. thoughts that remind us that not only are we designed to cooperate but that change is possible. that violence is not inevitable and each of us can have an impact.

if you decided to ignore any thoughts of hopelessness and choose courage over fear what might you decide to do to make an impact in the world?

as always, i'd love to hear.

dream big,

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