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Turning From Fear to Optimism

From: user 1.
Sent on: Sunday, November 18, 2012 9:33 AM

To the Thinkers:


In paradox, the author of The Philosophy of Fear argues that fear is anathema to almost anything positive and unless we see how much of it in a modern, free and more leisurely world is irrational and must be tossed to the four winds, we will be hopelessly trapping ourselves in effectively a delusion. 


Please consider coming tomorrow to the Carrollwood Cultural Center as we talk through the possibility of ridding ourselves of these scary things whenever possible.


The pivot point for our discussion are the possibilities through the looking glass of Humanistic Optimism. One of the key points of the book is that if we could figure out a way to assuage our fears, fight through those things that nip at our heals, put them on the backburner as we think about more important things, there are amazing possibilities in a transformation to something very much better. One of the major points in Steven Pinker’s incredible study The Better Angels of Our Nature is that we are evolving culturally far more quickly than we ever could biologically. Just consider how once one lives in a ‘free’ society, societal norms change much more quickly … like in a few generations rather than a thousand or hundreds of thousands of years. In this paradigm, just consider how the imbibed racism of the olde r is far less powerful in most of the young. And just consider the cultural acceptance of homosexual lifestyles between 2004 where a political party used gays as a wedge to retain power and how much less of a possibility that is now. Amongst our young, there is far less of this generally than in most of the people my age.


Considering this possibility, here are some points we can think about and focus the meeting on:


Can we break the things we fear into essentially two categories: those that are truly distractions that we allow in the door for essentially some vicarious ‘pleasure’ and those that are truly threats that we must do something about beyond putting aside?


As we live into the future in our more free societies, are there truly less things to be fearful of, more of our fears moving into the category of distractions?


If this is true and getting more true as we move forward, is it not possible that we can start considering things we fear simply to be things we should grow past, reduce in power, think of as some sort of guilty pleasure, something to sort of enjoy and then put away as we deal with our real lives in our real world?


With this in mind, let us bring up (your ideas beyond mine) some of the things that we now consider to be substantially fearful. Let us take some time to create a short list of these things we are really afraid of and argue they are not just distractions.


And finally let us consider that generally what many Americans worry about are mostly distractions, mostly irrational. Therefore the cancer of fear is totally corrosive in a trust between us and cuts deeply into the possibility of a Humanist Optimism. Does a better world not lie just on the other side of that chasm?


Maybe I will see you tomorrow night.


Dale Friedley

Head Dork


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