Fear is the Mind Killer

While being witness to the injustices that are taking place in the past year [and longer], I am reminded of a process Terry Dobson spoke of in his book ‘It’s a Lot Like Dancing’. I can’t remember the tribe, but there was an East coast Native American tribe that -before going to war- would perform a ritual called Killing the Enemy. They would get together and talk about their enemy, then talk about their attributes ‘they are good hunters, they have wise elders…’ etc, etc, until they didn’t feel like those people were enemies anymore. Or at least this was the process if it were successful.

During the Prop-8 fiasco, I found myself amidst two vehemently opposing groups and as I felt that my drive toward compassionate coexistence had me squarely in the against-prop-8 side, I tended to sit more often with one group than the other. I did however find myself really trying to listen to and understand the pro side as well.

What I saw was a considerable amount of fear. On one side was the fear that morals -nay- the very world was crumbling because some very strict laws were not kept and on the other side was the fear that lynchings were next. Sadly, both sides had taken some actions to help foster these fears.

My efforts in the ‘against’ camp were not so much about opposing the supposed bad guys as offering compassion to those who would accept it as well as attempting to engage in a little critical thinking and reflection.

Things were at one point so scattered and frenetic that I thought it would be good to get together and break bread, then just talk about the whole ordeal from our hearts. I did have an agenda. I wanted to try to give these people a chance to ground themselves and maybe feel a little camaraderie before proposing this ‘killing the enemy’ exercise.

They were amenable and we all sat in a circle and talked about those who had made such efforts to pass such an oppressive bill. ‘Luke has a great goatee…’ one would say ‘He’s a really good debater…’ said another. Pretty soon they stopped with all the stress and started to laugh and relax. After a few people had their say they started to not fear the other camp so much and just see them as people they had to convince or simply voice disagreement with instead of fearing.

Except for one guy. He refused to partake in the exercise. He believed firmly that those people were evil and bent on destroying any progress that had been made in the last thirty years. He has distraught, he was distressed, he was exhausted.

The next two weeks brought more actions, more debates, more confrontations. But the people who were able to let go of their fears, let go of the enemy and just do what they knew in their hearts was right, they stuck in there and rode it out to the very end.

The guy who refused, bless him, had to pull out and seclude himself before we were done. He became too anxious, too exhausted and too overwhelmed to continue.

As things are with the environment, the state of the economy and our constitutional rights as well as a cacophony of other stresses, it is good to be reminded of moments when killing the enemy within enables one to keep going.

Fear is the Mind Killer


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