Neighborhood Pot LuckImagine there are other planets that are well inhabited with intelligent beings. Imagine that they do have the technology or whatever to swing by our planet, scoop up radio, television, and wireless waves, and listen to and watch our broadcasts.

What general conclusion would you or I come to about us as a species? Would they send us an invitation to join the club? The answer is obvious. We are not a fear-based species, but by continual bombardment with fear-based information, we may be agitated into continual anxiety and fear, simply because we do have compassion for others. What one person feels, we all feel. That is the feeling of being alive. Concentrating fear and pain into one newscast from around the world makes a fear-extract serum that we pour into our hearts. News used to be sung by troubadours who came from other villages. We could handle that. Now we take our fear intravenously and almost continuously. Why, we may ask, have we allowed fear to run rampant across our information channels, keeping us as a species in continual agitation, defensiveness and fear of one another?

There are answers to that question. One is directly related to advertising and marketing. If we hold a magical fear-desire meter up to television sets, we find that the ads are full of desire, sweetness, beautiful human beings who have a little problem and then joyously solve that problem with some substance that is for sale. Even though in most cases the substance has horrific side effects, these are covered with images of beautiful, happy people and heart- throbbing music. The ads show us warm friendships between men and women, desirability, happy children who love and respect their parents and families, and freedom from all possible pain, not to mention the reinforcement of living in a beautiful home with no problems paying for all of it, as the ad characters seem to enjoy.

The programs, on the opposite pole, are either funny or frightening, or involve winning lots of money, and, of course, losing lots of money because we failed to remember some absurd bit of trivia about some obscure detail concerning nothing of relevance to our actual lives. We have terrifying shows that pit human beings against one another, where audiences appear to be thrilled by seeing people, women and men, in emotional anguish, throwing punches at one another, as if human beings have zero capacity for empathy when others are hurting. Ergo: other people’s anguish equals entertainment. This kind of show teaches us that it is normal and fine to bomb other countries, because it’s all for fun and that’s just how we people are. TV and movies feature murder and crime-based shows that keep us afraid to go out-of-doors. At last, we see the underlying reason for fear. In the marketing world, all of their money poured into advertising is useless if people are out in the streets talking to one another, and enjoying their lives away from the TV.

Now, even at movie theaters, a dying breed except for showing 3-D films, auto ads have flopped their huge paunches onto the silver screen. The advertising companies were quick to realize that if the programs frighten people and create a world of murderers, people will stay home and watch life on television where they are safe. They also realized that if the ads are the only things human and pleasant compared to the shows themselves, people will subconsciously cling to the ads as a survival mechanism. Degrees in psychology were not wasted on those who took it into the advertising world. This means people will be herded psychologically to the ads. This means further, that the best placement of ads is on programs that frighten people. Since this is a fact of financial investment, there is no stopping it from the back end. We can only change our fear footprint as a species, by boycotting fear.

Where would that leave us? For one difference, newspapers and news sources would have to revert to factual information reporting, rather than the terrifying, shock-value, musical performances that newscasting has become. It is inches from being a cartoon show, with its music, its bright colors and its quick punches, before jumping to the next shocking piece of human folly extract. What is the news except a compilation of acts made by people who took their thoughts and emotions seriously. The news is hosted by likable couples who have fun playing social badminton, as long as they do not in any way reveal their own human shock at what they just reported or show signs that what they just reported sunk into them. One can feel the gingerly steps they must make to hop, skip and jump quickly over the pain of reporting that hundreds were murdered, and go on to diabolic weather changes or sports.

By boycotting fear, we can begin to go out for walks, set up cafés that are meant for meeting one another, that are not internet cafés, but tables for two or four people where the criterion for sitting is that you have to sit at an occupied table. A simple rule would achieve this: No table is available until all tables are full.Thanks–The Management. The common context to talk about with strangers? Here’s an opening line. “How weird is this place? Hi, I’m Jim.” That is it. Social isolation ends with that policy in a café. Call them Ice-breaker Cafés and take down the sign that says Internet Café. No books, no computers, no sketch pads, just a cup of something and a dish of something else and someone we would never meet otherwise in a billion years of as-is social policy.

We may begin to see that everything in our society reinforces our fear of one another. In the Sixties and Seventies, a thumb out was all one needed to get across town. The same was true in the Thirties and Forties. In the 1980s, I was friends with a man who owned a Porsche automobile. His tire blew out when he was over for dinner and he had to take a bus to work the next day, so he asked me to take his tire in on the bus the next day to have it fixed . I agreed and, as I had no car, I carried the tire to the bus stop and waited for the bus. By the Eighties, the trust of one another had been ended. Hitch-hiking was very dangerous to the “everyone should buy a car of their own” market. I was not at the bus stop one minute, before two cars screeched to a halt and offered me a ride, because they recognized that I was hauling a Porsche tire. This astounded me. It meant that as long as there was a proper and shared context, people got along fine with perfect strangers. In this case the context was a car that many people apparently dream of owning.

The context today that we all have in common is a life-threatened human race, our planet, our humanity, and our mutual struggle to make this a livable planet again. Boycotting fear will slowly restore livability to the world we are creating.

All of this being said, how can we begin to boycott fear? The Ice-breaker theme should not be limited to cafés, but taking back the streets and the night should be the next step. Once a month, a Saturday-night street party on any side street would be another great start. There should be live dance music by local bands and singers, designing their songs for slow and fast dancing, yes, with strangers. Barbecues, too, vegetarian and other, corn roasts, and pot-luck food brought by the people of that block, with everyone placing their name on the plate they brought so that people could get to know who baked what and what was in it. Clean-up afterwards would be predetermined. Everyone would be welcome to attend any block party. The streets would be the dance floor. This would be the last Saturday of every month. In Oakland’s First Friday held for the arts, thousands of people mix and have a fabulous time viewing the artists’ work in the Temescal District in Oakland. There is food, music and open gallery touring, and the streets are packed.

Another approach to boycotting fear is weekly nighttime walks. They could always begin at pre-established places, and a map could be published on-line or in the paper that showed the route that the walk would take. The idea is that couples or singles would join in the walk, but the feeling would be of meeting and talking with others, rather than of couples being self-contained. Those who would rather just be among people, but not talk, could wear a white arm band, and they would be left alone to walk in silence. In any case, it would be people not fearing one another.

It is my belief that if we trust one another, then we have reason to trust one another, and if we fear one another, then we have reason to fear one another. These energy states are creative forces. Holding one or the other actually brings about like energies into our experience. This is the nature of the mind and the heart, and that is all we have to interpret what is taking place. Beyond that, fear or trust physically attract like energies. We cannot look out into the world and then come to some conclusion about it. That only reinforces a reverse belief structure. We must decide what kind of world we want to live in, and then believe that that is the world that we live in. In a week or two, possibly instantaneously, our circumstances will begin to express those new beliefs. Said more simply, Circumstances Follow Beliefs, and not the other way around. Choose your beliefs well. They are the menu for your life’s experience. I Trust. That doesn’t mean that I trust that people will behave well or not. I Trust that this is a benevolent universe and that belief alone will lead you into experiences that you can trust. Trust is a Creative Force in the Universe that you are. Let us start to rehabilitate our world and our social behavior by basing our new behavior on trust, and soon we will have a world that heals all of the wounds that were inflicted upon a world distorted by fear.

Ross G. Drago
Paint Rag Magazine

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