October 18, 2014

Fearlessness is an Illusion

This past week, I was at a retreat in New Mexico to hear the wisdom of three visionary women: Alice Walker, Gloria Steinem, and Chung Hyun Kyung.

Walker said that sometimes people will say to her, “wow, you are so fearless.”  We, as humans, often characterize those who are bold as ‘fearless.’ But, Walker’s response was that “fearlessness is an illusion.”  Walker is a courageous activist and author who has worked on the front lines of racial integration, anti-war and peace activism in war zones, and a variety of feminist and social justice issues. In fact, all three of the women who spoke this week has risked death, torture, and ostracization in service of a better world.



Photo: Alice Walker, Chung Hyun Kyung, and Gloria Steinem

Their persistence despite fear has allowed each of them to make a substantial, concrete, positive difference in the lives of millions of people.

“Holding your ground is holding your fear,” Walker emphasized.

In seeking to create change in our own individual lives and in the collective, we must persist despite fear. Once you have clarity in your body and in your heart what action is necessary, you must take risks and step out of your comfort zone if you want to live a life of joy.

If you allow fear to hold you back you will live a life of limitation. You may feel safe in some ways, but your soul will feel chained. It is sad to see a human who has shied away from a life of possibility.

We are designed for growth and development personally and collectively. We evolve when we are willing to take leaps of faith. Sometimes this means inviting judgment from others who ‘just don’t get it.’ You may be perceived as ‘too radical’ or ‘too idealistic.’ Or, if you’re growing out of harmful habits like meat-eating, drug or alcohol addiction, co-dependence, or a sedentary lifestyle while your friends, family, or peers continue in those behaviors, you may be called ‘holier than thou’ or told your changes will not last.

The calcified thought forms such as ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘humans are naturally violent’, ‘people don’t change’, ‘there will always be war’, and ‘life is tough, then you die’ will cause other people to lash out at you when you challenge them.  These are deeply entrenched in the psyches of many people so you will have to fortify yourself in love, faith in a better way of being, and seek out positive role models who have broken free of this conditioning. You will benefit from practices that connect you to your heart, your body, your purpose, and your soul.

When you are connected with your truth on a deep level you will be more able to hold fear and act with dignity and grace despite the fear.

I hope you will be willing and able to hold your fear and take the actions necessary to grow along the lines of self-love, compassion, empathy, and creation of a kinder world… even when it is unpopular.

Right now, we have millions of people who are materially rich yet deeply unhappy, millions being killed in war, millions who don’t have enough food to eat, billions of wild animals being displaced and with no safe home, billions of animals being killed for food, and many more atrocities.

To some, it may be a dismal picture.  The inner and outer destruction may seem to be too much to repair.

But to me, there is hope for a better world. I have faith in humanity and faith in the revolutionary power of love. When you are connected with love for yourself, love for the planet, love for other humans, and love for nature you will be willing to be bold and take the risk of trying out new modes of being.

What risk in service of a happier you and a better world can you take today? The world is counting on you.