The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. Mark Twain
Twain was not saying that we should welcome death, but that obsessing about it to the point of fearing it more than living makes you fear life itself. He encourages us to live life to the fullest so that we have no regrets, not about what we have done, but what we haven’t.
Have we become fearful of living? Is the threat of death that is pushed in our face daily with this pandemic, or the ever present political polarization, identity politics and cultural fragmentation made us so fragile that we rail against anyone who does not think, or even worse, does not act as we are told? Do we place more value on directives issued by bureaucrats, intellectual elitists and media gurus than the right of everyone to express their own opinion, or act in what they consider their own best interests?
Yes, with a pandemic wear a mask in public, keep clean, avoid large gatherings, and do so because it’s hygienically intelligent, but not because of fear. Don’t get caught up in identity politics and cultural right think out of fear, that opioid preventing awareness that you are your own person. This is true regarding all aspects of living, as only you can, or should, make decisions about what is best for you. It is said that love and hate are two sides of the same coin; wrong, its fear and hate. Courage and love are two sides of the same coin, and if you have courage, you will find joy in living, not fear of death. Fearful men live without joy, and therefore without love.
An old Chinese proverb wishes that we live in interesting times, and we certainly are as we have reached a cultural crisis. We are at a point where we need to understand the existential differences between the philosophy of liberty and that of its opposite, the philosophy of fear, and its other side of the coin, hate.
We need to not only understand this, but to make a choice. You need to be awake to that, but not “woke”, that pitiful zombionic state of “progressive” culture that seeks a “protected space” from anyone who may think or profess ideas contrary to our own, or worse, live them. This is the culture of fear, which leads to the hatred of all those that, for whatever reason, do not share your beliefs, and have the audacity to live their own lives. They are to be called out, ridiculed as ignorant products of an oppressive society, unworthy of consideration and therefore “canceled”. What malicious mind conceived the idea that a human being can be canceled? What ever happened to the love, peace and harmony of the 60’s and 70’s? OK, so I’m showing my age, but at least I’m here to do so.
Please, trust me on this, I’m not pleading that we all just get along, I’m saying we damn well better if we wish to live in liberty and peace. It’s not all that hard, we used to do that. We respected diversity of beliefs, free expression of ideas and alternative life styles. We valued individuality, actually practiced live-and-let-live, be cool, Let’s-Go-Mets!….well maybe not that, after all I’m a Yankee fan.
But seriously, where did we crash over the guard rails of a civil society? When did we go tribal in our societal behavior? Well ask yourselves this question – are you an African American, a Latino American, an Asian American, a White American….why not just plain American? Are you a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender….how about none of your damn business! Even more, are you a Republican, Neocon, Democrat, Liberal, Libertarian, Conservative, Progressive, Socialist, Green…..how about this one – do you love your country, and the Republic for which it stands?
Who are you anyway? Are you afraid of admitting to any of these labels? Maybe that’s a good thing; after all if you’re not a can of soup or a box of detergent on a grocery shelf, then who needs labels? Consider what Mark Twain once said: “The two most important days in your life are the day you’re born and the day you find out why.” Well you don’t need to think about the day you were born, you had little to do with that, but do you know why? I think it’s just to be whoever you want to be, not to live life in accordance with the opinions or wishes of others.
The alternative is you become an intruder on the rights of others, a parasite of their industry, a master of whom you make a slave to your own welfare; whichever it is your fear of living on your own brings you to the sociopathic alternative of a culture of fear. Oddly enough, it is a state of mind wherein you are more frightened than you would ever be harmed, more a victim of a fearful imagination than from any injury in reality.
Liberty offers no protected space, no guarantee of success, no avoidance of reality. It offers only what you already have, and that is yourself. Liberty only guarantees an opportunity, and that is to make the most of yourself as you can. There is no equality to anyone else (except under the law) as comparisons are not what liberty is about. It is an absolute; you are absolutely on your own to be whatever you can make of yourself.
There is a catch though and that is with liberty comes the responsibility of the consequences of your actions. Does that put fear in your heart? Why, because you could make a bad decision? Well that’s life, and you have to live it to enjoy it, but so what if you make a bad decision, its called experience; good news, with experience you get to make good decisions. There’s a great life lesson that experience is better than education because with experience mistakes are all your own, but with education you carry the mistakes of others, at least until you get over them. Remember that thing called courage? Well it’s not the mistakes you make that matter, it’s the courage to learn from them and move on.
Make no mistake about liberty, it’s damn hard to live life being yourself, but understand that the most common cause of depression is not being who you are. Depression is a state of despair, of fear, and that’s no way to live. Some people who suffer from depression do so out of fear of what others think of them, but then consider which would be better, to be hated for who you are, or loved for whom you’re not? What a horror it would be to live your days not knowing who you are.
There’s another thing about liberty and being who you are that may put fear in you, and that’s the fact that there are no guaranteed plans for success since you have no way to know what the future may bring. Man is a social animal and will always have exchanges with his fellow man in all aspects of life, but there’s one immutable guiding ethical principle, and that’s to never initiate aggression. In order to be yourself, you must respect the natural right of all men to own themselves, their life, their liberty and whatever they make through their industry. Everything else comes from this essential natural law, but not a plan for success. Life is a journey in to the future, which by definition is unknown. Funny thing about the future, unlike the past it never ends, and that’s what makes it so wonderful. So be a fearless traveler, you have nothing to lose and all of life to gain.
As Lao Tsu said some two and a half millennia ago “A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”