Whether we know it or not, all human behaviour can be distilled down to being driven by one of two states. Some people think of them as emotions but they’re actually the result of other emotions. These two states are love and fear. Let me clarify that, when I speak of love, I’m not talking about a creepy kind of love that has sexual overtones. I’m talking about a genuine acceptance of others for who they are and an interest in their wellbeing, growth and best interests.
Briefly and simply put, love is a state that we experience only when we feel secure and safe. When we feel unsafe and insecure we experience fear. Fear is very necessary for survival. It prompts us to act in a way that protects us from possible injury or death. Sometimes, however, our fear is misplaced or prompted by selfish interests.
Each of the two states results in our behaving in certain ways according to the level of the state we are experiencing.
For example, when we experience safety and security, we are able to express love. This is not necessarily always the case but usually the case. When we experience the state of love, we act with kindness and consideration for others. We are concerned for their wellbeing and happiness because we feel secure and happy in ourselves and we want what’s best for them. Love therefore results in positive actions and behaviour.
On the other hand, when we feel insecure and unsafe, we experience and express fear. This is almost always the case. When we are in a state of fear, we act in our own interests only in order to ensure our survival and safety. We are therefore not concerned about the welfare of others because we are primarily concerned about our own welfare. And we will do anything to make ourselves feel safe again, even if that means taking actions that may injure or harm someone else we perceive to be a threat to our safety.
With that by way of background, let’s look at what’s happening in our country …
On the one hand, we have people who have been exposed for engaging in corrupt activities. People are inclined to think this is confined to the public sector. That’s a fallacy. Private sector companies are just as implicit in corruption. For example, there are companies which have been granted tenders they know they should not have been given, but they have accepted them nevertheless. That amounts to their being engaged in corrupt activities.
Then there are death threats being issued to political role players who have taken a principled stand on some or other issue.
Lest you think I am justifying or defending the actions of corrupt people or people who are making death threats, let me state quite clearly that I am not. Corruption in both the public and private sectors must be rooted out and dealt with comprehensively. People who make death threats should be identified and dealt with by law enforcement agencies. I am however seeking to explain why these people are doing what they’re doing. Explaining their actions doesn’t make their actions right. It merely offers a perspective as to why people do what they do.
Simply put, people engage in corrupt activities or issue death threats to others because of fear. In the case of corruption, they are afraid that they will not have enough money. You might think it’s a case of greed. You’re right – greed is the step-child of fear. When someone feels unsafe and insecure, no matter how much money they amass, it’s never enough. That’s why they will never stop grabbing for money and cheating others to get more, because they never feel secure.
In the case of the death threats, the people issuing the threats are afraid they (or those who they perceive are looking after them) will lose their power and they will no longer be safe. So they will threaten the lives of those who are making them feel unsafe.
You may think this is far-fetched, but that’s how it works. That’s what fear does to people. Start looking at other human behaviour and categorise it either in terms of love or fear. You will be surprised at what you start seeing.
Judging by the behaviour we are witnessing, our country is therefore dominated by fear, not love. And until we change the national psyche by changing the mind-set of our leaders, both in business as well as in government, we are doomed to go down the road that leads us to self-destruction.
Fear is experienced because of an impending sense of loss – of safety, of life, of means, of lifestyle, of anything and everything people hold dear. Of course, the tragedy is that much of the sense of loss is actually based on a faulty perception. People actually think they’re going to experience some or other loss when they may well not. But perception is reality.
How about you? Are you living your life in love or fear? If you want to discover the answer, look at your actions and behaviour. That will quickly reveal the truth to you. I want to encourage you to deal with your fear because it takes you down a dead end street.
You want to sweep down the highway of life, not stagger down some dead end street. Choose to love not fear.