Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Daring Fear

Fear and audacity two more emergency passions that elicit irresistible movement in man’s sense appetites.

A fortnight ago, a physically fragile member of our extended family approached us with great emotional rigor about her strong body-shaking fears, essentially fears from bodily harm. Without anything as much as a fully-revealed justifiable reason, other than the result of a little rough physical contact two prior days ago, she expressed unmitigated fear for somebody close to her – her own husband.

But the mere initial exposure of such fear coming from such a fragile individual galvanized the rest of the family, including us the parents, into quick action to mitigate the situation. The husband was immediately called into the carpet, admonished and asked to pack his things and move out of their house, leaving wife and two kids behind for what was planned as an appropriate cooling-off period.

Not given the opportunity to air his side, the husband after some weak resistance meekly acceded, unable to go against the collective wrath of hovering siblings and parents. Reassured and justified, everybody else sighed and felt peace and serenity were temporarily restored, with the long night ending with the wife and kids lovingly escorted to their car for the one block away trip home. With fears allayed and serenity reigning, good sound sleep that night was sweet reward.

But as the intervening days would reveal the strong fears expressed by the wife were slowly unraveled to be unfounded or may have been from the get-go faked to generate compassion and sympathy. An effective ploy to drive husband out of the house and to enjoy full exclusive use and control of their nice house. For a day later, the husband was served a restraining order and a case of assault and battery to boot.

An ideal scenario fit for a screenwriter’s dream of the classic tragedy stirred and driven by vengeance and subterfuge. Having done what she did, she not only drove the husband out of the house, out of his family especially from a kid he has very deep connections with, but also, into the ground.

But that is not the main story.

The storyline is about fear.

And fear dons many caricatures in human life, too. Everybody fears death but since it seems so remote and distant, nobody really worries about that kind of fear. Or any fear that is in the future. But a fear around the corner is something else. It can easily engender body shaking and unbalanced thinking, and sleepless and listless nights, too.

Fear comes also in unrecognizable boxes. A man can fear working or is repulsed by the idea of work, or maybe even “allergic” to it. But we know that kind of fear comes in the package of laziness. We only know too well that man fears disgrace before his fellow men. If it is present disgrace, we call that fear, shame. And if for some foreseeable future, we say shamefacedness.

Now, in the man or woman who suddenly finds himself faced with formidable evil that appears with such great magnitude, his/her fear translates to amazement. Or if the danger is very sudden, imminent and unexpected, man’s fear may be expressed in stupor or paralysis, occasioned by the crippling inability to do anything. However if the dangers or misfortune perceived are petty, man’s fear may be expressed as simply anxiety.

But why does man fear and why does the idea of fear in others brings on great emotional reactions on those around the fearful person?

You see the most primal cause of fear, believe it or not, is the love for good. A man or woman may fear some person or thing because that person or thing may be threatening the good in his/her life – the good health, the good peace and calm of family life, the good safety of body and mind, etc.

Another basic cause of fear is man’s perception and/or conviction that he is unable to cope with the dangers facing him. The inability to resolve issues is a very strong motivator for fear.

Thus, feeding on fears or exploiting the emotions of fear is a much effective ploy to influence other people’s actions and emotions. Especially if the parties involved are loved family members.

The most recent example narrated above adds another notch. – on the aged timber post of life’s many great lessons.

Graphics credits here, here, and here.

The Many Faces Of Anger

Anger wears many faces, and in many of its ugly manifestations, it conjures viral images of evil, vile, malicious, and destructive. But it isn’t always so. That man possesses it as part of his nature immediately speaks to us of the noble good that it may be harnessed for.

As one of the irascible passions of man, or more popularly referred to as emergency passions, it stands unique in a couple of instances.

First, as one of the emergency passions, it partakes of and addresses good that is very difficult to obtain, but more realistically, of evil that is difficult to avoid. Thus, anger is immediately called upon when man is abruptly confronted with evil that is difficult to surmount. Thus, in an emergency situation. Remember Dante’s treatise on the hierarchy of Hell? The lowest rung reserved to those who cannot acquit themselves from sins that are most easy to avoid?

And unlike the rest of the passions of man, anger has no contrary. It has no opposite. It stands solitary, lonely, and most unique.

Many theologians opine that an added quality to it is that it is a mixed passion. It is concerned with both good and evil.

A man or woman therefore who strikes with extreme measures against a known enemy who seeks to destroy him, his family, and loved ones, is said to be using the motive force of anger for good. To help preserve his life and that of his loved ones. Survival after all is primal in man. On the other hand, the aggressor similarly moved by anger becomes your unholy incarnation of evil as manifested in this world. An instrument for evil most sinister.

In any manifestation anger has a two-fold purpose. Firstly, it is used to seek vengeance. For the good-hearted it is resorted to right a wrong, and for the dark-hearted to wreak havoc and destruction. The former feels good and justified with his act, but in this world we inhabit, the latter also in most instances feel the loathsome satisfaction for having done the evil deed. The unworldly satisfaction of seeing pain and suffering in the faces and lives of those inflicted upon.

Funny that the virtue of justice is also factored in the manifestation of anger. We express anger because we desire justice for the wrong done us. Thus we try to carefully weigh the damage done against the vengeance sought. Except that for the dark-hearted, the expression of anger is to extract vengeance simply out of hate, or for some falsely-perceived good to be derived from it. A case of our hard-wired free will blindsided by an erroneous conception of good.

Secondly, anger then takes on a likely partner, hate, the passion opposite to love. Except that the good-hearted “hates” the evil that was done, and the dark-hearted simply hates.

We know of a multitude of instances in life that can cause anger. But as always, it involves real injury, or fanciful or perceived injury. And that injury becomes the dark symbol for contempt and hate for the person or thing causing it.

And in an uncanny twist anger also brings on the simple passion of pleasure. The good-hearted feels pleasure and contentment having received recompense for the wrongdoing. And the dark-hearted could also feel the unhealthy and sick pleasure of knowing the injury done.

In summary, anger is such a complex passion. Armed and moved by it, men become strong and energetic in seeking justice. But in the process, anger can also impair one’s abilities to weigh things prudently and impartially, thus resulting in taking actions of vengeance that are way out of proportion to the injury perceived or suffered.

And as one of life’s lessons, we have learned that frequently we are predisposed to extract vengeance way beyond what the injury merits.

The case of the hammer being used to swat a fly.

What is the just means for those so wrongly trampled upon?

Graphics Credit