Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fear, Hope, etc.

Fear. What is it about it that so fascinates people? There's a word for every fear, from Arachibutyrophobia; the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth to the fear of long word; ironically called Hippopotomonstrosesquipped
aliophobia. All emotions; passion, joy, sadness, anger and vengeance atleast seem uniquely human. Yet fear is an emotion that permeates through all creatures. A surprising number of decisions seem to at some basic level have grounding in fear. Even extremely motivated decisions are sometimes beset with the fear of failure. Fear is what makes the M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction) concept so very effective. Fear seems to make any situation worse. The ancients prayed to their gods for fear of divine retribution. The fear of fear is a device that moves forward many a movie. And speaking of movies, one doesn't often pause to think why the gun is never loaded. The gun is pointed to the head and the next thing to happen is not for the gun to go off, but for the (wo)man to slowly wrap the thumb behind the pistol and cock it. Death; formerly staring at you in the face, now stares you right in the eye. That is the power of fear.

And then there's courage. Courage, people say is not the absence of fear but the ability to face it. The primal instincts leave no room for courage. The first instinct is to fear, to stay away, the second is flight, to run and only the third is to fight. Yet courage seems almost the polar opposite of our basic survival instincts.

What motivates this instinct? Is it to break away from that which seemingly ties us to our "animal" roots? To be courageous is to be noble, to be human. It also symbolizes to some extent hope; in the words of the great Architect of the Matrix "The quintessential human emotion; simultaneously the source of your greatest strength and your greatest weakness." It really must be quite some emotion to be described as the quintessentia of humanity, and indeed it is. After all, it is the last thing to come out of Pandora's Box; the metaphorical box that was the cause of all suffering and disease also contained hope.

Nobody embodied hope as much as did Robert Krueger, a man I met while on my way to India from GYLC. Flying to Canada on an emergency Visa, he was imprisoned for eight months in Nigeria when someone stole his identity. A millionaire, he was forced to undergo brutal treatment at the hands of the authorities, yet he lost not hope and was eventually rescued.

Indeed, it is as much a strength as it is a weakness. It's what keeps people going when all seems lost. It's also why people risk so much in their attempt to gain something, when they know they could lose everything.

All other emotions seem to follow; love, courage, ambition and happiness, and it seems to answer why hope is so essential. It's a key to the other emotions; including happiness. If we never hoped and treated everything as mere fact, then none of the other emotions would exist. And if happiness is the reason to live, then we couldn't afford to lose emotion. After all, it isn't possible to feel happy without feeling anything at all. Is it?

3 comments:

Ashwin Balu said...

what can I say very deep stuff,and i learnt a myriad of new words for example Arachibutyrophobia the fear of peanut butter.

Sudharsha said...

Fear could act as a source of motivation to kindle your spirit. Fear could make you trip. Fear could lead you to the wrong end. Fear could force you give up. Or anything else..

Not just fear. Happiness. Despair. Hope. Or any other emotion for that matter, depends. from person to person, situation to situation, and on too many other variables.

In all,... well?? I don't see this discussion coming to an end.

Ritika Dusad said...

its true, to a very large extent!