My mother and maybe your mother used to say, “You have a brain, use it.” This works but not when there is what we perceive as a major threat. That’s when logic stops and the emotional brain takes over. Fight or flight. We need to survive and be safe. Many people’s first reaction at this point is to fight and build a wall around us. After all, we are the most powerful nation in the world. Yes we are the most powerful nation in the world but in the long run, does this impulsive reaction actually keep us and our kids safe in the world?
Can we as a species evolve fast enough to survive in today’s new technological world we live in where we are becoming more and more connected? Where we can destroy not only each other but the whole planet? We no longer live in small tribes. What worked for us then does not work now. ? Over hundreds of years and even today dictators have ruled much of the world. Why? Why didn’t people fight back? Because they were kept in constant terror – in fear of loss and survival.
So what is the answer? The survival instinct has served us well in the past and to some degree still does. Over millennia our prefrontal cortex, the logical brain, has evolved to become much larger and more complex. But we don’t have several millennia to solve our present issues. Are there ways to evolve much faster at present? I believe we can make a choice in how we wish to evolve. According to recent neurological studies it has become evident that we can change our DNA even after we are born and then pass the new code on to our children. How can we do this? Thoughts and actions. Change the abuse in the world and the brain becomes more capable of dealing with stress. We become more resilient. But even this will take time. Evolution takes time even when we hurry it along.
So in the meantime, how do we stop the terror in our hearts and our reactions before we destroy our constitution? Our freedoms? Our compassion for others? Our world?
By conscious living. Take several deep breaths, look at all sides of the issue and come to a thought out solution.
- When you are afraid, if you have time like we do now and usually do, stop for a moment and switch to logic. Look at the odds. Did you know that about a billion people out of seven billion on earth adhere to the Muslim faith? Among this billion there is a very small group of radicals. Remember that what you fear can happen. It is possible, not probable.. It is much more likely that you and your family will be killed in a car crash.
- Stop giving the media and others so much credence in your life. Be aware and alert but don’t let them rule your life. You know they are there to crank up the fear so that you will vote for them or make sure you are watching them. Don’t allow them to succeed. Turn off the TV if you need to. Don’t join into all the fear mongering. Psychologists indicate that 92 % of our fears never happen. Spending all that time in our lives in fear instead of learning to love and learn about each other – what a waste of God’s gift of life.
- Do some research. The information is close by on the internet. Read the Koran for yourself. Get to know some Muslims personally. Most are kind and caring people and very much like the rest of us. Look at what we all as humans have in common instead of our differences. My father grew up in what is now Chechnya. It was then southern Russia. They lived in German villages near Muslim villages and got to know each other. When the communists took over the country, it was the Muslims who literally saved my father and his family from being slaughtered and hid them from the anarchists and red army.
- Place yourself into the shoes of the other. That’s when you can come from compassion and love instead of fear. Ask yourself what it would be like to be them? Was your family, even though long ago, immigrants and refugees? As I watched the refugees struggle over the Hungary and Greek border and saw the family of the little boy dead on the beach, I felt tears sting my eyes. And I wanted to help. What if that had been my husband and me? What if that had been my son? And yes, it had been my father and his family. If they had not been rescued by a British ship and taken in by Canada I would not be here. By a twist of fate and peoples love and caring, and a willingness to take my family in and help them, I lived in a free country full of plenty.
- Check your deeply held beliefs before you act. Fear is normal, just a part of us as humans, but we have choices as to what we do with it. Do we decide to act or merely react? My father and his family, who were strong Christians, finally escaped the Soviet Union during the Stalin purges in 1924. Once when I was young I asked him, “Weren’t you scared to death all the time?” He said, “Yes, but we didn’t act on it. We sat down together and thought it through. We acted the way we believed Christ would have wanted us to act.”
Whether we react or act is our choice, and it may ultimately decide our evolution and survival on earth. Choose wisely.